Terrorism. It is defined as the unlawful use of violence or fear to achieve political or ideological aims. What happened in Israel last week was terrorism, but mere words or definitions fail to capture the true horror.
Hamas’s attacks were barbaric. They were inhumane. They were primitive. They were an atrocity. They were an illegal and immoral act of war.
A decent person with just an ounce of moral fibre could not help but be emotionally touched by the acts of evil hatred.
In the early morning of Saturday, October 7, innocent women, children, babies and the elderly were targets of vicious, savage deaths. Rockets rained down indiscriminately, while bloody murderers acted with nothing but animalistic savagery.
Stories of rape, torture, beheading and kidnapping haunt even those of us without family or loved ones in Israel. We can only try to imagine the pain felt by those more closely affected.
These attacks have been described as Israel’s 9/11 moment. That their acts resulted in the largest killing of Jews in a single day since the Holocaust sends a shiver down the spine.
These murderers deny not only the right of Israel to exist or of Jewish people to a homeland, but they threaten the very right of Jews to live. There remain those who would pursue genocide as their objective.
But emotions alone cannot guide our response. Australia and Israel are democracies. We argue for rights and rule of law. It is here that words and definitions matter.
The former Liberal-led government legally recognised Hamas as a terrorist organisation, as have many other nations. We have all known of their evil motivations for too long.
Australia was the first country to vote in favour of the UN Partition Plan in 1947 and became one of the first countries to formally recognise the state of Israel in 1949. These legal bonds and ties continue to this day and underpin our recognition of Israel’s absolute right to defend itself, its right to exist and its right to protect Israeli citizens from terrorism or acts of war.
The support for Israel and unconditional condemnation of Hamas from the Liberal and National parties is absolute. I am confident these sentiments are shared by the overwhelming majority of Australians.
We are unequivocal in our belief that, in exercising its right to self-defence, Israel has the right to remove the threat that Hamas presents to the Israeli people.
Hamas, which stands only for bloodshed and terror, is not only a threat to Israel but presents a permanent blockage to any pathway that could lead Israelis and Palestinians towards a more peaceful future. Their removal from any position of power or influence is a prerequisite not just for security but for any hope of peace.
Australia, along with all likeminded nations, should support efforts by Israel to defend itself and its people against the risk of future atrocities. The Coalition believes that Australia should be willing to not just stand with Israel but to help Israel.
The Liberal and National parties, once again in concert with virtually all Australians, stand against all forms of antisemitism. Our government was proud to lead in Australia’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.
We understand the pain that the hateful antisemitic scenes from the steps of the Sydney Opera House brought to Australia’s Jewish community. To those hurting or fearful I say that you are our family, you are loved and you are an inseparable part of Australia.
I was in Brussels and Berlin last week and to be asked about those scenes was disturbing and embarrassing. They have no place in Australia and, while we defend the right to protest, there should be no effort spared to prosecute any who crossed the line through words or deeds to incite violence or further terrorism.
These acts do not require a “lowering of the temperature”, as the Prime Minister said, but unequivocal condemnation and, even more important than words, action across our security agencies to ensure our Jewish community feel safe in their homes, schools, workplaces and daily lives.
To live in Australia is to live in a multicultural society that respects all traditions or heritages, asking only that they also respect one another.
Both Australia and Israel respect diversity. We are more inclusive societies than any governed by Hamas or their supporters such as Iran.
That is why, at a historical turning point like Hamas’s acts of war against Israel, we will stand together, resolute, in defence of Israel.
Senator Simon Birmingham is the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.