In the Senate – Har Nof

November 26, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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Western Australia Senator Joe Bullock has addressed the Senate in the Australian Federal parliament analysing the aftermath of the Kehilat Bnei Torah Synagogue massacre in Jerusalem.

He said:

Senator Joe Bullock

Senator Joe Bullock

“Last Tuesday, two Palestinian terrorists entered a Jerusalem synagogue armed with a pistol and meat cleavers, killing four Jewish worshippers and critically injuring several others. The victims were Moshe Twersky, Aryeh Kupinsky, Kalman Levine and Avraham Goldberg. All of them committed no greater sin than going to pray at their house of worship and, of course, being Jewish. My thoughts are with the families of the victims and, in particular, with their 24 fatherless children. But they are also with all citizens of Israel and with the entire Jewish community.

We have seen repeated attacks on Israel from all sides. We have seen the continued and unrelenting campaign of terror and of rocket attacks by groups like Hamas. Beyond Israel itself there is a rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe and across the world. There is increasing belligerence by groups and individuals promoting ideas such as boycott, divestment and sanctions. Media bias, whether by omission or commission, influences the reporting of events in the Middle East, including the military action in Gaza. There are the double standards of many in our community who claim to be interested only in human rights but whose real agenda is to attack Israel. Too many public voices, even here in Australia, rush to condemn Israel but are nowhere to be heard when attacks like these are committed.

This climate creates an unbalanced and fertile ground for antisemitism. The entire Jewish community, quite understandably, feels under attack, unsafe and on edge. Jewish leaders in my state of Western Australia, as well as national figures and organisations, have expressed to me their concern with events here, abroad and, of course, in Israel. They are right to be concerned. But they are by no means without friends. Let me put on the record my strong support for the state of Israel and my condemnation of these attacks. Let me also put on the record my strong support for the Jewish community in Australia.

There is a grave danger in false moral equivalence, in assuming all sides of a conflict are equally at fault. Israel is a modern, secular, tolerant, liberal democracy, hardly immune from error but nevertheless a shining beacon of democracy in a region with precious little of it. Its enemies are thuggish, brutal and committed to the destruction of that nation, its citizens and in many cases Jews everywhere. The BBC World News report of the attacks stated:

In the Gaza Strip, some people distributed sweets to celebrate. Hamas, which controls Gaza, and another militant group, Islamic Jihad, praised the attack. 

Those who would praise murder and terrorism are not worthy of a single groat of support, in this country or any other. Australia must stand firm against any temptation, however nicely phrased or emotionally delivered, to take the side of such people against Israel or to allow any hint that antisemitism is acceptable or somehow justified by one’s opinions on the Middle East.

The Jewish community is experiencing increased incidents of antisemitic behaviour. In my state of Western Australia, anti-Jewish graffiti was recently found scrawled across the fences and gate of the local Jewish primary school. Jewish people report increasing numbers of physical and verbal attacks on them, even here in our supposedly enlightened and tolerant country. These acts and words are legitimised by those leaders in our community who publicly denigrate Israel and who make no secret of their support for Israel’s enemies. This cannot be allowed to stand. Those who know what is right must be willing to speak up and say so. I am not Jewish, but even an old Protestant like me knows that terror is never excusable, murder is never justified, any movement committed to violence must be opposed, antisemitism is wrong, and delegitimising Israel’s very existence is unacceptable. On the occasion of these horrific crimes in Israel, it would do us all good to examine what we can do to show solidarity and support for the Jewish community both in the Middle East and here in Australia.

I would like to end on a note that is both tragic and heroic. This most recent attack did not claim four victims but five. A young police officer responding to the scene was critically injured and later died of his wounds in hospital. This police officer was not Jewish. Rather, he was a young man of the Druze community, an Israeli citizen serving his fellow countrymen regardless of race or creed and making, ultimately, the supreme sacrifice for them. In the midst of violence, division and attempts by far too many people to cause us to hate others on the basis of race, this young police officer stands as a symbol not just of Israel’s multicultural society but of the better angels of humanity. May he be an example to all of us.


4 Responses to “In the Senate – Har Nof”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    Wow, Senator Joe Bullock, you could teach all our Jewish spokespeople exactly how to word it in their responses! Good on you.

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    What a Righteous Mensch !!!!

    There are also some Jews in our Parliament and I am yet to see such a strong voice of reason from any of them. Danby and Dreyfuss ought to learn from this, that is if their Labor Party allows them.

  3. marta mikey frid says:

    Senator Joe Bullock is a great humanist. A light onto all those who would like to believe that religion can only exist on the basis of ignorance.

  4. david singer says:

    Senator Bullock

    Wonderful and very moving speech.

    Perhaps Australia might consider taking your words to the next level by resolving
    1. no further financial aid will be given by Australia in either Gaza or the West Bank
    2. Abbas and his Government will be regarded as persona non-grata
    (i) the insidious Jew-hating provisions in the PLO Covenant and Hamas Charter are repealed
    (ii) Government-controlled media and schools excise all references denigrating and demeaning Jews.
    (ii) The PLO is prepared to recognise Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people in any peace agreement signed by Israel and the PLO.

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