THE late Senator Kimberley Kitching has been described as “incredibly warm, intelligent and passionate” and “one of the best friends the Jewish community has ever had in the ALP”.
Kitching, who was deputy chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel (PFI), passed away suddenly last Thursday of a suspected heart attack at the age of 52.
Just last month, she and PFI chair Senator Eric Abetz slammed the Amnesty International report branding Israel an apartheid regime, calling it “wrong in detail and disturbing in its intent”.
In January, the Labor Senator for Victoria took part in a Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) commemoration for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, while in 2020, she delivered a scathing assessment of UN bias at the Boston Global Forum’s United Nations 2045 Roundtable.
Hailing Kitching as “an incredibly warm, intelligent and passionate person with so much more to give this country”, ZFA president Jeremy Leibler told The AJN, “She was a dear friend of the Australian Jewish community and Israel and will be sorely missed.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim said the late Senator was “one of the best friends the Jewish community has ever had in the ALP”.
“She combined a sharp intellect with immense personal charm, and brought a genuine depth of knowledge to foreign affairs, defence and trade issues in particular. We especially revered her as a fearless defender of the State of Israel.”
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) national chairman Mark Leibler and executive director Colin Rubenstein said she was “widely respected and admired” and “a true and deeply valued friend to Australia’s Jewish community”.
“Senator Kitching’s untimely passing is a great loss to our community and to Australia as a whole,” they said.
Noting she had “an outstanding record as a significant public servant across all three jurisdictions in our country”, Zionism Victoria president Yossi Goldfarb said, “She was a solid friend of our community and of Israel and will be remembered for her integrity, fairness and impressive logical mind.”
Tributes also flowed from Kitching’s Jewish colleagues in Canberra. Reaching out across the party divide, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg described her as “a warm, loyal, decent person of real conviction who always strongly argued her case”.
Expressing his “complete shock and sadness at the tragic loss of my friend”, Macnamara MP Josh Burns said, “Kimba was charming, smart and probably the toughest person in the Parliament.
“She was a formidable Labor warrior,” he continued, “and had so much more to give.”
Julian Leeser, Liberal Member for Berowra, said Kitching “was among the brightest and most principled parliamentarians I have come across”.
“The Parliament and the country are poorer for her passing,” he said.
The Israeli Embassy said they were “deeply saddened”.
“We had the pleasure of working closely with Senator Kitching who was a consummate professional and genuine person,” the embassy said.