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Solidarity Meeting in Support of the State of Israel

Solidarity Meeting in Support of the State of Israel

20 July 2014

Read Nina Bassat's Speech

At the outset, I would like to express my distress at the death of the passengers of flight MH17 and my condolences to all who have suffered a loss. This is both a cataclysmic event and an epitome of all that is happening worldwide.

We are here today because the State of Israel, so integral to our sense of identity and indeed to our destiny, is suffering.

We are here today because of the rallies in Sydney and Melbourne, in New York and Berlin; rallies which are violent and call for the destruction of Israel.

“ISRAEL is an illegitimate state. Israel has no right to exist,” shouted a speaker in Sydney, surrounded by Hezbollah flags, Jihadist flags and signs equating Israel with Nazi Germany.

Outside a Paris synagogue, anti-Israel protesters carried signs reading "Gaza is a concentration camp" and called out "Death to Jews" and "Hitler was right."

Let us be quite clear on one thing.  The rallies are not just calling into question the right of the State of Israel to exist, they are also overtly and stridently antisemitic, calling into question the very right of the existence of Am Israel.

How the world sees what is happening in Israel and Gaza depends on perspective, on emotion, on where lie the allegiances of the commentator.

But let us put aside opinion, emotion and allegiances and look at facts and circumstances which are indisputable.

•             sixty-six years after its establishment, Israel has no internationally recognized borders

•             some of Israel’s neighbours do not accept its very existence

•             security remains a constant overriding issue

•             rockets have been bombarding Israel for years, over 1000 this month

•             the Hamas charter continues to seek the destruction of Israel

These are facts on the ground. These are the circumstances which govern the day to day lives of millions of Israelis. Any one of these circumstances would be sufficient grounds for a country to take action.

Israel’s reality is a totality of all those circumstances.

Many world leaders and commentators speak of “breaking the cycle of violence”, showing that there is no understanding of the disparity or the nature of the violence.

On the one side, there is terrorism sponsored by the ruling authority; on the other side, is a democratically elected government, answerable to its people, employing such measures as are necessary to defend its population and doing so with a restraint for which it has been given scant credit.

Maintaining democratic values in a country under threat is no easy task, but Israel has managed to do so, which is one of the reasons that Australia, with its own fierce commitment to democratic values, understands better than most countries the difficulty of Israel’s position.

How to maintain the integrity of your democratic principles and at the same time negotiate with dictators who are not governed by the rule of law.

How to protect your civilian population from terror without resorting to tactics such as used by those who seek to destroy you.

In Israel, these questions are not academic; they are existential.

There are signs that the world is beginning to understand the difficulties faced by Israel in attempting to establish a lasting peace in a region which has no inherent interest in peace.

There are signs that the world understands that peace will not come readily, or even at all, until such time as the Arab countries of the Middle East take on board at the very least some basic principles of democracy.

World leaders are at last saying that Israel has the right to defend its civilian population and are beginning to recognize the action of Gaza as  terrorism and the action of Israel is defence.

Terrorism is not a substitute for negotiation and hope is not a strategy for achieving peace. Israel understands both those imperatives; the rest of the world may at last be beginning to do so.

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