23 June 2016

Response to the Election Questionnaire, from Dean Smith, Liberal Senator for Western Australia

The following is the response to the Jewish Community Council Questionnaire, received from Dean Smith, Liberal Senator for Western Australia

23 June 2016
Mr Steve Lieblich
Director of Public Affairs
Jewish Community Council of Western Australia

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your questionnaire addressing issues which are of interest to WA’s Jewish community.
I understand the Liberal Party’s Federal Secretariat will be responding to you directly to set out the Government’s position on the issues you have raised.

However, given my long-held personal support for Israel and commitment to working with WA’s Jewish community, I did want to provide you with some personal observations.
I have been privileged to travel to Israel on several occasions, the most recent being last year, when I travelled as part of a delegation organised by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs council.

During that visit, I was enormously grateful for the opportunity visit the Knesset to meet Israeli parliamentarians, and also to travel to Ramallah to see first-hand on the border with Gaza the threatening conditions that some Israeli families endure on a day to day basis.
It is impossible to overstate just how valuable it is to learn more about the challenges faced by Israel from those directly involved in the day-to-day work involved in maintaining the nation’s security. No one who makes such a visit can walk away unaffected by it.

Of course, it also broadened my appreciation for the need to ensure the safety and security of our own Jewish community facilities here in Australia.
I was also proud to speak in November last year at the Peace Rally organised in Perth, to stand up against the ongoing campaign of violence and murder being waged against innocent Israeli citizens by terrorists, and whose who harbour, fund and otherwise support them.

No Australian of good conscience could possibly hold sympathy with, or defend, the outrageous behaviour of some Palestinian clerics, who actively encourage their followers to murder Jews at random on the streets of Afula, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

All Australians should be appalled by the words of Palestinian President Abbas – a self-proclaimed ‘moderate’ – who has told his people that “every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure”, and said that murderers will be “rewarded by God”.

No Australian should accept a situation where new generations of Palestinians are having their minds poisoned through vile, anti-Semitic propaganda campaigns, which simply make the already difficult goal of peace even more unlikely.

Australia has always been a staunch supporter of Israel, because the values for which Israel stands – personal freedom and democracy above all else – are also the values for which Australia stands, and which Australians have fought and died to protect for generations.
Likewise, I find it personally distressing that there are some political representatives (albeit a small number) who feel it is appropriate to show public support for the disgraceful ‘Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions’ (BDS) campaign by promoting or taking part in pickets at businesses owned by Jewish Australians.

The BDS campaign is an appalling display of anti-Semitism, and all parliamentarians should be prepared to condemn it on that basis.
Whatever people’s disagreements, there is no excuse for the violence, intimidation or disrespect towards Jewish people that the BDS campaign has actively encouraged.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to place my views on the record. It is genuinely appreciated.
Kind regards
Dean Smith