At a time of economic uncertainty and world upheaval, whoever governs Australia for the next term will have their work cut out in ensuring stability at home and abroad.
On domestic issues, Australian Jews can feel assured that both major parties share an appreciation of our unique security needs, both have pledged to enshrine our religious freedoms and both, by endorsing the IHRA definition, have shown they are serious about antisemitism.
On Israel, things are more complex. Both condemn the BDS movement, though many in our community were disappointed when no senior Labor figure came out to condemn the Sydney Festival boycott.
The Coalition, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison in particular, have shown a deep affinity for the Jewish state. The government has recognised West Jerusalem as its capital while ruling out prematurely recognising a Palestinian state. Australia’s voting patterns have reflected Morrison’s strong and principled condemnation of UN bias against Israel.
Labor supports Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself, while leader Anthony Albanese insists that the call to recognise a Palestinian state, enshrined in the ALP platform last year, “will ultimately be a matter for a future Labor government” and will not be a decision made lightly. As the ECAJ’s Peter Wertheim points out, Labor’s positions on a number of other Israel-related issues have been carefully worded.
Labor also has more members who are overtly critical of Israel, both in Parliament and at its grassroots level. Earlier this year, Senator Sue Lines, who is slated to become Senate president should Labor win, accused Israel of apartheid.
And while Albanese has long opposed BDS, he has also made statements over the years that were seen to be excessively critical of Israel. The AJN would expect the moderate and pragmatic tone he has embraced as leader to be a more accurate marker of how he might conduct himself as prime minister.
The Jewish community is a microcosm of wider Australia with a plethora of political opinions. Differing issues hold different weight for each of us. Some of us will vote for the Coalition, others Labor. Some will choose Greens, minor parties or independents.
We are privileged to have that choice.