Parliamentary Speech: Israel

Federation Chamber on 17/10/2023

Check against delivery

It is the stories of courage and bravery in the moment of crisis that stay with us. Itay and Hadar Berdychevsky of kibbutz Kfar Aza hid their 10-month-old twins in the safe room of their home before taking on Hamas with pistols—two parents with pistols against two dozen jihadis armed with assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and belt-fed machine-guns. Itay and Hadar Berdychevsky managed to kill several marauders before perishing in a hail of bullets, but they fulfilled their mission. They stood their ground, they held the line, and when Israeli troops fought their way into Kfar Aza hours later, they found the Berdychevsky babies alive and well. Inbal Lieberman's act of bravery lifts our hearts too. She did her job as the security coordinator of kibbutz Nir Am. At the sound of gunfire, Inbal Lieberman opened the kibbutz armoury, activated volunteers and posted them in defensive positions. There were 25 Hamas terrorists killed on the fence, with no losses to her kibbutz. She fulfilled her mission. She stood her ground; she held the line. These stories are small slivers of light within an abyss of darkness.

October 7 was meant to be a quiet religious day for the Jewish people, the day of Simhath Torah or 'Rejoicing of the Torah'. It is a time for reading the Torah scrolls. It is a time for faith, family and community. It is a time for peace. But it was not a day of peace. It was a day shattered by barbaric, blood soaked violence. It was a day shattered in southern Israel by Hamas terrorists, who breached the Israeli border on paragliders, motorbikes and utility vehicles and then began a murderous rampage, wielding Kalashnikovs, grenades and rockets.

The violence visited on the innocent is hard for our ears to hear, but it must be spoken of; it must be entered into the public record. And it must be condemned—without qualification, without nuance or equivocation. The stories of violence are distressing: Jewish babies shot in their cribs; Jewish revellers at a music festival hunted down and shot at point-blank range; Jewish women frogmarched at gunpoint through the streets of Gaza, bloodied and humiliated, by their Hamas captors; Jewish families—fathers, mothers, and children—gunned down together and murdered in their homes; Jewish people burned alive as they hugged each other for the last time; Jewish children stolen from their parents, mocked and humiliated as they cried out for their mums.

The violence inflicted by Hamas terrorists upon the innocent residents of southern Israel was brutal and evil: 1,400 dead and 200 hostages, and many are still missing. And why? Well, it is simply because they were Jews who chose to live in the national homeland of the Jewish people. It didn't matter that they were simple farmers. It didn't matter that they were peace activists who volunteered to shuttle sick Palestinians from Gaza into Israel for medical treatment. It didn't matter that they were children, pregnant women, and the elderly. It didn't matter that they all lived within pre-1967 Israel borders. They were Jews, and to Hamas that was enough.

But none of this should come as a surprise. Hamas hates the Jewish people, and we must take them at their word. The Hamas charter not only makes an explicit call for the destruction of Israel; it also mandates the murder of every Jew on this Earth. And these terrorists film their mass-murder and torture spree and broadcast their depravity to the world on social media. In one infamous incident, they videoed the shooting murder of a 78-year-old grandmother on the victim's own mobile phone and posted the footage on her Facebook account. Their depravity knows no bounds. That is one case among thousands as to why Hamas is listed as a terrorist organisation by the Australian government. They are no different to the thugs of ISIS who unleashed their murderous darkness across Iraq, Syria and the Levant.

Yet now, even after the murder of so many innocent Jewish people, we see people unable to condemn what is clearly an evil act of murder. At a pro-Hamas rally in Sydney, New South Wales Greens MP Jenny Leong berated the decision to illuminate the Opera House with the blue and white of the Israeli flag as 'appalling'. Last week we saw ugly scenes at the Opera House of pro-Hamas crowds chanting 'Gas the Jews' and 'Eff the Jews'. And I, along with many other mainstream Australians, did not recognise my own country. Only yesterday in this place, after the fuller scale of the horror in Israel became painfully clearer, the Greens and two teal Independents put an amendment that accused Israel of war crimes. Their moral confusion and wilful ignorance is breathtaking. Jewish innocents—women and children—were violated and slaughtered by terrorists, and we have people in this place unable to condemn the violence without politicising it.

Good political leadership requires a strong moral compass: the ability to see the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, justice and injustice, to hold wrongdoers to account for their actions. And it's not always easy. We live in an imperfect world governed by imperfect people. But this is a precise moment that demands a precise moral judgement. This is not a time for moral relativism. This was murder. This was evil. And we must condemn it.

The days ahead will be dark as the Jewish dead are laid to rest and families mourn the brutality of their departure. The days ahead will be dark as Jewish parents long to be reunited with their kidnapped children again. The days ahead will be dark as more innocent people die, Jewish and Palestinian, as Israel exercises its right to self-defence—Israel's right to self-defence that I support unreservedly. The IDF will bring the sword to Hamas, but in defence of their people and homes, and the blood that will be shed is on Hamas. They brought this war. They shattered the peace. They murdered innocents. They used innocents among the Palestinians in their own territory to further their evil savagery.

I do pray, though, for a quick resolution. War is inherently violent. The violence will escalate, as it always does. There are innocent people on both sides who do not deserve the suffering that will come, that has already been visited on the Jewish and the Palestinian people. That is on Hamas. They started this. The deaths of little Palestinian children is on them, as are the lives of murdered Israeli children. My heart breaks for those children and for all of those, not of their choosing, caught up in this. And so I pray for a quick resolution to this war and I pray for a lasting peace, shalom over the Holy Land, a shalom that realises the hopes and dreams of both the Jewish and the Palestinian peoples. May that peace come quickly.