Six former prime ministers urge end to religious hatred

October 30, 2023 by J-Wire
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Six former Australian prime ministers are calling for an end to religious hatred as tensions rise amid Israel’s sustained campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

Former Prime Minister John Howard in Sydney, Saturday, March 25, 2023; Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Canberra, Monday, February 13, 2023; Julia Gillard in Adelaide, Sunday, August 27, 2023, and bottom from left: Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Sydney, Saturday, August 19, 2023, Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Canberra, Monday, July 31, 2023.
AAP Image/James Gourley, Mick Tsikas, Roy Vandervergt, Dean Lewins, Joel Carrett, Lukas Coch)

John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison issued a joint statement calling for an end to hate speech against any Australian.

“Whatever is happening elsewhere in the world, there is no place in our country for racial or religious hatred,” they said on Monday.

“And there is no more tenaciously evil race hatred than anti-Semitism.”

The Australian Jewish community had already been directly affected by the terrible crimes of Hamas and people of all faiths needed to stand with them, the former leaders said.

The Palestinian community also deserved Australia’s love and support, they added while condemning the attack on Israel by Hamas.

More than 1400 innocent people were killed in the attack and more than 200 hostages taken.

Thousands of children have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory strikes on Gaza.

“Likewise, we stand too with the Australian Palestinian community whose families are dying and suffering in this terrible conflict,” the statement said.

“Our nation’s success depends on us not allowing conflict overseas to turn Australians against each other.”

Hamas’ mission is to spread hatred and should Australian hearts be filled with it “then we will be doing the terrorists’ work”, they said.

“At home in Australia, we must treat each other with love and with respect, we must support those who are grieving and distressed.”

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein welcomed the open letter by the six former Australian Prime Ministers on Israel and Hamas – saying “Australia should be grateful for the leadership they have shown”.

“The public letter is a fine example of the role former leaders can play by using their respected positions to engage constructively. I hope other national leaders in like-minded countries follow suit,” Dr Rubenstein said.

“We thank the former Prime Ministers for their show of unity in calling for tolerance and mutual respect and condemning racial and religious hatred – the key to our nation’s continued multicultural success.

We also appreciate the unequivocal condemnation of Hamas and of its barbaric acts of terrorism carried out on October 7.

Furthermore, I acknowledge the former Prime Ministers’ heartfelt show of support for Jewish Australians and outright condemnation of antisemitism in all its guises. In these tough and uncertain times, a show of solidarity is greatly appreciated,” Dr Rubenstein concluded.

Co-CEO of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim, told J-Wire: “This is an eloquent and timely statement by former Coalition and Labor Prime Ministers, which is refreshingly free of partisanship.  It restates the principles that have nourished Australia for decades as a socially cohesive, successful multicultural society.  The right to engage in peaceful protest and advocacy must not be abused by vilifying any section of the community on the basis of race, nationality, religion or any other personal attribute or by inciting, advocating or glorifying criminal conduct of any kind.  A heavy responsibility falls on Federal, State and Territory governments and law enforcement agencies to ensure that all sections of the community comply with these basic rules.

“The Prime Ministers’ decisions to individually sign and jointly release such a statement today sends a message to the world that Australians understand what is right and what is wrong and will not stand back when leadership is needed the most,” Jeremy Leibler, President of the Zionist Federation of Australia stated today.

“The Prime Ministers’ words and their support have been heard across the world and demonstrates again that Australia is a country that produces leaders of moral principle.

The fact that the former Prime Ministers are from both major political parties highlights that condemnation of Hamas and its terror campaign, and support for Israel’s right to defend itself transcends politics – it is an issue of basic morality and values.

We are humbled and touched by their support,” Mr Leibler added.

with Reuters and J-Wire


One Response to “Six former prime ministers urge end to religious hatred”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    This was a fine and important contribution to make. Paul Keating excluded himself from being part of it, which is his right to do; I do not, however, like the remark he made about the Zionist Federation, who he said devised the letter, implying there was something untoward about this. It reeked of an old antisemitic trope.

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