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AIJAC statement on Federal Minister Tony Burke’s comments

Oct 27, 2023 | Colin Rubenstein

Cabinet Minister Tony Burke (source: Alex Guibord/Flickr)
Cabinet Minister Tony Burke (source: Alex Guibord/Flickr)

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein today condemned comments by senior Federal Minister Tony Burke and said he had “crossed a line” – putting himself outside official Australian government policy.

“Tony Burke has made vile and ridiculous statements, implying both that Israel is an `apartheid State’ and an offensive moral equivalence between the slaughter of Israeli civilians by Hamas and the accidental deaths of Palestinian civilians who are unfortunately being killed because Hamas made a deliberate decision to use them as human shields,” Dr Rubenstein said.

“His remarks are dreadful and are well outside official Australian government policy.

“It appears Tony Burke has decided to prioritise his local base over the urgent need to remove Hamas’ capacity to wage war against Israelis and give Palestinians in Gaza a better future.

“Tony Burke should have unequivocally rejected the question about ‘genocide’ rather than side-stepping and deflecting it.

“Israel has no intention to destroy the Palestinians in whole or in part – unlike Hamas, which openly declares such intent against Jews in its charter and whose October 7 attacks match that intent. Moreover, Hamas’ use of Palestinian civilians as human shields is unequivocally a war crime.  Tony Burke should have added that it is Hamas that is indeed a genocidal movement.

“War is horrible – and everyone should have empathy for the Palestinian civilians suffering in the war brought about by Hamas. Everyone should also understand that the only possible way to improve the situation for both Palestinians and Israelis is to dismantle Hamas’ military domination of Gaza and its capacity to inflict terror against Israel,” Dr Rubenstein concluded.

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