Michael Danby shares his thoughts with J-Wire readers

July 5, 2018 by Michael Danby
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My love of the Australian Jewish community emerges from having a similar background to many families in the community who endured the Holocaust…writes Michael Danby.

Michael Danby and his beloved St Kilda

I think my obituary for the much-loved Rabbi of the holocaust survivors, Rabbi Chaim Gutnick (of blessed memory), reflects that https://bit.ly/2MQ4xSC.  Even before the murder of the Jewish school children by a Jihadist at the Jewish school in Toulouse, I insisted that the Australian government see Jewish Students all over the country were protected. Security funding to fortify Jewish schools all over Australia has seen that every parent and grandparent can be assured that all our children can freely attend to their education in the best safety the Australian government can provide.

Before I was elected to Parliament in 1998, there hadn’t been a single MP visit Israel for more than a decade. Thanks to the support of philanthropists Sol Lew and David Goldberger, I took the first mission of Australian Labor MPs to Jerusalem (led by the then opposition leader Simon Crean). Since then, the atmosphere has totally improved in Parliament, with many Members and Senators having visited Israel, the Australia-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group having one of the largest memberships in Parliament, we having regular speakers and functions thanks to the ECAJ, AIJAC and the Israeli Embassy. Words cannot speak highly enough of my regard for our long-standing Labor stalwart Senator Glenn Sterle. He works with love and passion to continue my work with the Australia-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group. The same applies to my dear Liberal friend, the chairman of the Australia-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group and the chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (which I used to chair), Senator David Fawcett. Israel visits have generally benefitted Australian national security. The visits to Israel have had an important transformative effect on our national politics. You don’t have to explain to MPs and Senators Iran, Jihadism, counter terrorism, the extremism of Erdogan, of Hezbollah and Hamas’ role as terrorist organisations and threat, once parliamentarians have visited there.

From an Australian Jewish viewpoint, perhaps my most difficult days in Canberra were with Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, when he expelled the Mossad station chief in Canberra after the head of the Mossad Meir Dagan used Australian passports for the targeted assassination of the Hamas quartermaster,Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, in Dubai. My office received a torrent of anti-Jewish hatred when I dissented from Rudd’s decision, explaining that the Israelis were clearly wrong to have used such passports, Dagan having given Australian security an undertaking that they wouldn’t be misused. I thought however that removing Israeli security would disadvantage Australia, my views have been subsequently vindicated with analysis showing that apparently 90% of the exchange of information benefited Australia. Now security relations are restored, for instance Jerusalem did the right thing in alerting Australia to the plot to blow-up an Etihad flight from Sydney.

The ad placed by Michael Danby

Finally, I’d say my years long campaign to try to get the Australian government, especially Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, to condemn Iranian ballistic missile testing has not been successful. This is despite a Senate Select Committee recommending that the Australian government should speak out against this dangerous Iranian aggression. Even those who don’t agree with President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), such as European Presidents and Prime Ministers Macron, Merkel and May, have condemned the Iranian rocket firings. Julie Bishop won’t speak to me because I have refused to shut up about this. She and the Jewish community can be assured I will never shut up about this rotten deal which has only enhanced the power of the mullahs in Tehran, and I will continue to demand that she and Malcolm Turnbull do something about it

My career has paralleled this quote from Edward Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die”

I wanted to advise you that I am retiring from Federal politics, effective as of the end of the current parliamentary term. After 20 years as the Member for Melbourne Ports, it is time for the next chapter in my life.

This is wholly my choice. I would have been pre-selected for the next election had I chosen to remain. Notwithstanding the seat is marginal, I also believe I could have won the seat for an eighth term.

It has been a privilege to serve the Melbourne Ports community for such a length of time.

A story about my retirement appears in The Australian today by Foreign Editor, Greg Sheridan ( http://bit.ly/2tUTbpr ).

Also in today’s Australian is an editorial from Greg Sheridan with covering some highlights from my career. (http://bit.ly/2KuaEPL )

My work has been made much easier over the years by the love and support of my wonderful wife, and my children.

I am indebted to them.

Comments

3 Responses to “Michael Danby shares his thoughts with J-Wire readers”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    Michael, I shall miss your stalwart and outspoken support of Israel and the Jewish people which you managed so well and so passionately while serving in the Australian Parliament. Thank you for your great efforts and may the next phase of your life bring enrichment of all kinds.

  2. Benseon Apple says:

    An excellent op-ed by Greg Sheridan – a fitting tribute to a most impressive person.

    One need not be an ALP supporter to be impressed by Michael Danby and the courage of his convictions.

  3. david singer says:

    Michael

    Your passionate advocacy for and on behalf of the Australian Jewish community and Israel whilst an MP has been fearless and uncompromising. Thanks for often going out on a limb where so few are prepared to venture.

    I hope you will continue to maintain your enthusiasm in a leadership role within the Jewish community.

    Yasher Koach and Kol Hakavod.

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