02 November 2015

Remarks by Senator Joe Bullock at a Peace Rally for Israel

1 November 2015

Thankyou very much.

In December last year, in Sydney, a man called Man Haron Monis walked into the Lindt café in Sydney armed with a shotgun and took 18 people hostage. The ensuing siege saw two innocent people die, including café manager Tori Johnson who was shot and killed by the gunman.

The hostage-taking terrorist was killed by police as they stormed the café. Does anyone think they were wrong to do so?

Last month, Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar, a radicalised 15-year-old jihadist, shot and killed Curtis Cheng, an unarmed police civilian finance worker, outside the New South Wales Police Force headquarters in Parramatta.

In the ensuing exchange of gunfire, the terrorist was subsequently shot and killed by special constables who were protecting the police station. Does anyone think they were wrong to do so?

His two confederates, who armed and trained him, were also arrested. Does anyone think it wrong of the police to do so?

Just one week ago, in La Trobe St in Melbourne, a man armed with a meat cleaver and calling himself a “messiah of Islam” held up a café for 2 hours before he was arrested and charged.

Does anyone think it was wrong of the police to do so?

These questions answer themselves. Every Australian would support our police forces, our emergency responders, in their goal of protecting the public from violent criminals out to do us harm.

And yet, on the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, a coordinated campaign of violence against Israelis – a campaign of stabbing innocent people as they wait for a bus or go to school – is met with the suggestion that Israel is to blame. That the victims of murder and attempted murder, targeted for no reason other than they are Jewish, are at fault for the crimes committed against them!

This has been described as Israel “continuing to wage a daily war against the Palestinians”. It has been called a war crime. Israel has been criticised for “disproportionate casualty numbers” and had it said that this ‘reflects the power imbalance between the parties”. In short, Israel has been blamed for violence against its own citizens and condemned for protecting them from terrorism.

This is wrong.

And we are here today say it is wrong.

We are here today to say that people deserve the right to live in peace. But we are also here to reject the double standards and the false morality that says while we would not accept violence on our streets here in Australia, somehow the Jews must accept it in Israel.

Because they are Jews.

My friends, this is not merely wrong, but dangerously close to anti-Semitism.

It springs from a worldview that says Israel is to blame for the latest violence – when it is the Palestinian leadership calling for its young men and women to go into the streets and stab innocent civilians.

It is of a piece with those, like the UN Secretary general, who call on Israel to show “maximum restraint” – while the Palestinian leadership calls “holy’ every drop of blood that is spilled in Jerusalem.

It shares the same false premise as those who say that Israel is the roadblock on the path to peace – when the truth is that every time the Israeli people have offered a settlement to the Palestinians they have been told, “no”.

My friend and colleague Michael Danby said a week ago that, "It's very wrong to compare people with knives in their hands to people with knives in their chests". He has never been more right.

We will have none of these false comparisons. We will have none of these excuses.

We stand with Israel not because we want to simply pick a side, pick a team, and barrack uncritically.
We stand with Israel because incitement to violence and the pursuit of genocide can never be justified. We stand with Israel because we stand against terrorism. We stand with Israel because we stand for the truth of history, for the principles of justice and peace and for the right of Israelis – Jewish, Arab, Druze or Christian – to live in peace and safety.

Friends, you know better than I that the tide of anti-Semitism is rising, even here in our multicultural and tolerant Australia. That the tide of anti-Israel sentiment, fed by lies, distortion and ignorance, rises as well.

Well, I want to say today that whether in the Parliament, in the Labor Party or in the community you have a friend in me.

There are many good men and women in the Parliament willing to stand up and speak for Israel – Senator Smith here today is one, as is my Labor colleague Senator Glenn Sterle. There are many good men and women in all parties fighting for the truth about Israel and standing up for the Jewish community.

We will continue to oppose terrorism - at home or abroad, in Australia or in Israel. We will continue to speak out against the cranks and fanatics who would blame the ills of the whole world on Israel. We will continue to do everything we can to combat anti-Semitism.

I call on the Palestinian leadership to renounce violence, to condemn terror attacks, to accept the right of Israel to exist as the national home of the Jewish people and to show a genuine commitment to peace.

I know you join me in this, and I know you will continue to support our efforts to see truth prevail.

I stand with you.

Senator Joe Bullock
Senator Joe Bullock was elected to the Senate in 2014, after nearly forty years representing shop assistants as an official of the retail employees association, the SDA. He has served on the ALP’s National Executive, as well as spending 19 years on WA Labor’s Administrative Committee and as the State Vice-President of Labor here in WA.

Since taking his seat Senator Bullock has been a strong and vocal supporter of Israel and of the Jewish community. In the wake of the Har Nof terror attacks in Jerusalem last year, his speech to the Senate standing in solidarity with the victims went viral around the world - particularly in Israel. He is known in the Labor Party and beyond for his principled approach to politics and his willingness to stand up for what is right, even if it might sometimes be unpopular or “politically incorrect”. As a committed Christian, he believes passionately in freedom of religion and the rights of all people to practise their faith free from fear or persecution. He’s back from Canberra this weekend and we value his support, not just today but over many years – Senator Joe Bullock.