THE AJN joins with all those who have expressed their shock and sadness at the untimely passing of Senator Kimberley Kitching.
A fearless warrior who spoke her mind, Kitching was that rare politician who transcended party lines. Her shrewd intellect and analytical abilities earned her the respect of Opposition and Government figures alike; the tributes that have poured in from all political persuasions are testament to the esteem in which she was held.
She was a staunch friend of our community and of Israel, defending the Jewish state even at times when it may have been unpopular among some of her party colleagues to do so. But she did what she thought was right and didn’t flinch.
Her positions were always backed by a detailed insight into the issues at stake. NSW Labor frontbencher Walt Secord recalling being “absolutely startled by the breadth of her knowledge and understanding” about Israel and Judaism.
As deputy chair of the federal Parliamentary Friends of Israel, Kitching was passionate in her advocacy and in promoting ties between the two nations.
She spoke in support of Israel amid the conflict with Hamas last May, declaring, “There is no place in Labor for anyone calling for Israel’s destruction,” after a fellow MP attended an anti-Israel rally at which protesters chanted, “From the river to the sea…”.
She chided controversial barrister Julian Burnside after he equated Israel’s treatment of Palestinians with the Nazis, calling the comparison “a classic and sinister example of antisemitism”.
Slamming United Nations bias at a roundtable in 2020, she said, “Israel is the only country in the Middle East with free elections, free media, free trade unions, free civil society, freedom for all religions and freedom for women and for LGBTI people.”
In addition to her advocacy, Kitching also regularly attended and participated in Jewish communal events as her time allowed, most recently in January this year when she took part in the Zionist Federation of Australia’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration.
Her friendship, passion and chutzpah will be sorely missed. Her untimely passing leaves a giant void in the Labor Party, in Parliament and in public debate.
May her memory be a blessing.