‘Utterly reprehensible’

Pandemic of antisemitism locking down our campuses and communities

'The blame for this vile conduct isn’t the students’ alone to bear. My question is: where are the adults and those in positions of power? They’re equally as complicit'

Andrew Wallace visiting Israel. Photo: Supplied
Andrew Wallace visiting Israel. Photo: Supplied

Our nation is contending with a global pandemic of antisemitism and infectious hate. We’ve seen it emerge from the shadowy recesses of the online world. We’ve watched as opportunists draw in the disillusioned from the political extremes.

Now, tent cities have grown like colonies of bacteria, as the germ of antisemitism festers in our university campuses. Institutions are in literal lockdown because of decision-makers’ failure to stop it at the start.

I am utterly heartbroken. I am outraged. And I’m fed-up with the way those who should know better have let it continue.

Across the United States, we have watched on while misinformed hot-headed students, backed by big money and even bigger egos, commit heinous violence and property damage under the guise of protest.

Jewish students and staff alike face horrifying abuse and discrimination. They’re locked out of their classrooms and campuses “for their own safety” by masked protestors, and decision-makers unwilling to stand up for what’s right.

And that infection has now spread to Australia. Rallies and encampments at the University of Sydney have now spread to the University of Melbourne, Curtin University, and the University of Queensland (UQ), as well as the Australian National University (ANU).

Just this week at UQ, the flag of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – widely recognised as a terror group, and subject to sanctions in Australia – flew next to the Aboriginal Flag and Palestinian Flag.

In Australia’s capital, ANU student leaders called for “unconditional support” for Hamas. When asked on the radio whether they condemned the October 7 attacks, the organisers said no. They took a leaf out of the propagandists’ playbook and claimed the IDF murdered their own kinsmen. It’s utterly reprehensible.

But the blame for this vile conduct isn’t the students’ alone to bear. My question is: where are the adults and those in positions of power? They’re equally as complicit.

Some staff members are actively supporting the encampments and rallies. Parents are enlisting their children in the calls for an intifada – literally, to take-up arms. At UQ, professional protestors use these protests as a platform to attack Australia’s defence research and industry partners, just when we need them most.

Labor governments at every level have proven to be fair-weather friends to the Jewish people. Their silence is deafening.

Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel said, “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

The seething hate, organised disinformation, and the idle indecision of those in positions of power is confronting.

These protest movements have become the surrogates and advocates for terrorists and tyrants. They’re the microphones for the Iranian Islamic Republic, for Hamas, for the Chinese Communist Party and their proxies and allies.

Demonstrators demand a “free Palestine” but then offer unconditional support for their oppressors: Hamas, Hezbollah, and their supporters.

How free are the people of Iran – the women, the children, the minority groups? What about under the Taliban? What about pro-democracy activists in China, Russia and across the so-called Axis of Resistance? Extremism and freedom cannot coexist.

Palestine won’t be free until Hamas is destroyed. Let’s not forget: this war started when 3000 Hamas terrorists murdered 1200 innocent men, women and children on October 7, 2023; kidnapping, torturing and raping many more. The war won’t be over until Hamas releases the 129 hostages who remain in captivity, cut off their ties with Iran and foreign terrorists, and lay down their arms.

To the student protestors I say: clean up your mess. Finish your studies. Get a job. Live in the real world for a while. And if you still want to fight for a “free Palestine” and support Hamas, then spend a summer in Iran and tell me how “free” you feel under the Ayatollah’s Islamic Republic. Heaven help you if you’re a member of the LGBT community because your arrival will be met with brutality and likely death. That is what life is like under Islamic extremism.

I say to the staff: either quit your job or get back to work. Yes, exercise your freedom to political communication. But not on taxpayers’ time or dime. For as long as you’re paid by the Australian people, you should be working for them.

To our universities: it’s time to step up. Expel students who cause damage or harm. Sack staff who fail to comply. There can be zero tolerance for antisemitism.

To our law enforcement: Enforce the law. Listen to those Jewish Australians; those paying the price for the indifference and indecision.

Malala Yousafzai said, “Terrorism will spill over if you don’t speak up.”

I call on the Prime Minister, the Education Minister, and governments at all levels to step up and speak up. Now isn’t the time for timidity and weakness. You’re at the helm, and you’re steering our campuses and communities into dangerous waters with your obsequious obsession with political correctness. Stop caving in to vested interests. Start calling out the hate.

Rabbi Kook, who survived German imprisonment in World War I said, “I don’t speak because I have the power to speak; I speak because I don’t have the power to remain silent.”

May we choose solidarity over silence, and what is right over what is popular. May the Jewish people find a faithful friend in the Australian people.

Andrew Wallace MP is the Deputy Chair of Parliament’s powerful intelligence and security committee, and the defence subcommittee. He is the Chair of the Australia Israel Allies Caucus and is a leading voice on international conflict and foreign interference, particularly in the context of parliamentary democracy. In 2021, he was elected the 31st Speaker of the House of Representatives and in 2023, he was appointed a Political Advisor to the UN General Assembly, before visiting Israel as part of a bipartisan delegation in the aftermath of the October 7 attacks.

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