Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Community Solidarity Briefing, Melbourne - 2006

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MARK LEIBLER AC

(National Chairman, AIJAC; Chairman, World Board of Trustees of Keren Hayesod-UIA)

Community Solidarity Briefing, Melbourne Hebrew Congregation, Melbourne

30 July, 2006 

Ladies & Gentlemen, I begin with condolences to the families of the victims, both Israel Defence Force and citizens of Israel, as well as to the families of innocents in Lebanon and Gaza, and wish a full and speedy recovery – a Refuah Shlema – to the wounded. Our thoughts are also with the brave Israeli soldiers who have been kidnapped and their families. 

Please rise for one minute’s silence as a mark of respect. 

My friends, we are here this evening to express our solidarity with our brethren in the State of Israel, with the IDF and with so many in the North of Israel who have been consigned to bomb shelters in the face of this unprecedented onslaught. We are appalled at the unprovoked aggression from Gaza and Lebanon that sparked the current crisis. We salute the strength, courage, resilience and unity of the people of Israel.  

It is also heartening that both our Government and the Opposition have demonstrated their unequivocal support for Israel and their complete understanding of the root cause of this bloody conflict. Australia stands with the United States as two of Israel’s closest friends. 

None of us is under any illusion about the nature of this conflict. It is not about settlements, occupation or disputed boundaries. It is about Israel’s existence. 

The President of Iran has called for Israel to be wiped off the map. His proxy in Lebanon, Sheik Nasralla, has explicitly described Israel as a cancer which must be eradicated. But the target is not Israel alone. On 22nd October 2002, Hassan Nasralla told Lebanon’s Daily Star, “if the Jews all gather in Israel it will save us the trouble of going after them world wide”. 

The objective of Iran and Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas is to complete the genocide perpetrated by Hitler, to make the whole world Yuden-rein. 

This agenda is simply non-negotiable. There is no room here for a peace process, no room for a premature unsustainable ceasefire. 

And still, most of the world is against us. Disingenuous pacifists and serial pragmatists believe that, unlike any other country, Israel should not defend her right to exist. Indeed, the international community has invented a new threshold of restraint, for Israel alone – proportionality – a notion which, in this tragic conflict, is both fatuous and callous - unless, of course, you think Israel and the Jews should be permanent victims who suffer, bleed and die in silence the way the Nazis planned. 

What is a proportionate response to unprovoked missile attacks upon your country’s third largest city and a swathe of other towns, to the kidnapping of your soldiers and the spectre of untold horrors yet to be unleashed? What is a proportionate response to the declared desire and active attempt to destroy a sovereign nation? 

In the Second World War, around 10 Germans were killed for every Briton. Did that make the war against Hitler wrong? Of course not. 

The usual complement of complacent, spectator nations have seen fit to criticize Israel’s response as being too forceful. Yet they know that every Government has the absolute obligation to protect its citizens. Do they not realize that Hezbollah and Hamas fight for the same cause, in the same way, as the terrorists who have bombed New York, Madrid, London and Bali?  

To suggest for one moment that the desired aims of the Israeli Defence Forces and the terrorists are the same, which is how the question of proportionality becomes relevant, is vile. The moral chasm between the two sides in this conflict could not be greater.  

In response, listen to what Melanie Phillips, a distinguished columnist for the British Daily Mail, has to say: 

“The point of a war of self-defence is not to achieve a parity of killing. It is to deter and prevent future killing of the innocent.” 

She continues, 

“Then there is the extraordinary doctrine of equality of suffering, the grotesque totting up of casualty rates on either side. Because casualties in Gaza and Lebanon are far greater than in Israel, the argument goes that the scale of Israel’s response is illegitimate. This is bizarre. Since when was such a calculus the determinant of a just war?  

My friends, for Hamas and Hezbollah, every dead Israeli child is a victory and a cause for celebration. For Israel, every dead Palestinian child is a tragedy and a mistake. Israel makes every reasonable effort to strike only legitimate military targets. But Hezbollah has raised hiding behind its own civilian population to a cynical art form. It stores its rockets in basements of civilian homes. It fires volleys of missiles from the midst of crowded villages. It loads its missiles with ball-bearing shrapnel, specifically designed to maximize civilian casualties. Hezbollah has intentionally placed its civilians in harm’s way because it knows that civilian deaths are good publicity.  

These jihadists are quite willing to sacrifice the lives of their women and children on the altar of a holy war against Israel. 

Indeed, even the UN Humanitarian Chief Jan Egeland was recently moved to say: 

“Hezbollah - stop this cowardly blending in among women and children. I don’t think you want to be proud of having many more children and women than armed men killed.” 

We know Israel fights for peace, not war. If it were possible for Israel to secure the safety of her people without taking a single life, with the mere stroke of a pen, she would. Israel has tried countless times. Israel desperately wants a strong, peaceful and democratic Lebanon, free from the scourge of terrorism, and its nihilistic agenda. But what Israel will never do is sit idly as her enemies murder her people and call for her very destruction. 

In the words of Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks: 

            “The battle Israel is fighting today is not for itself alone; it

            is for the sake of all those who say ‘No’ to terror, ‘No’ to

            the destruction of life, ‘No’ to killing in the name of G-d.

            Whether they live in Bali or Beslan, or Madrid or Mumbai.” 

And in the words of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert:           

“Israel will not be held hostage - not by terror gangs or by a terrorist authority or by any sovereign State.

We believe in the justice of our cause, because there is no battle more just or moral than ours - a battle for the right to a peaceful and normal life, like any other human being, any other nation and any other state.” 

Gathered here this evening, we join together and declare - Am Yisrael Chai - Israel will never equivocate, her people will never waver and Jewish communities around the world will never hesitate in their support of the State of Israel and her people. Ambassador Tamir, this is what we ask you to convey on our behalf to the Government and people of Israel.

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