Six former prime ministers have issued a strong statement declaring support for both the Jewish and Palestinian communities in Australia and warning against allowing the Middle Eastern conflict to stoke division here.
The signatories are four former Liberal PMs – John Howard, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison – and two former Labor PMs, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.
The only other living former PM, Paul Keating, declined to sign. He has not publicly given his reasons.
The statement condemns the Hamas attack of October 7 on Israeli citizens, calls for the unconditional release of the hostages held by Hamas, and urges “sustained humanitarian access” for aid to reach innocent Palestinians.
It also urges Israel to avoid civilian casualties and reaffirms “the Australian government’s enduring support for a two-state solution” to achieve a lasting peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
Stressing the importance of local cohesion, the statement says:
Our multicultural nation’s success is founded on the Australian values we all share and the respect we show for our fellow Australians’ diversity of cultures and faiths.
Whatever is happening elsewhere in the world, there is no place in our country for racial or religious hatred.
And there is no more tenaciously evil race hatred than antisemitsm.
Our Australian Jewish community, directly affected by the terrible crimes of Hamas, not only has to endure the loss and suffering of their families in Israel, but now sees these events being used by some to spread ancient hatreds which have inflicted so much suffering on the Jewish people for thousands of years.
Nothing happening overseas justifies hate speech in Australia, the statement says.
We believe we speak for the vast majority of Australians, of all faiths and of none, when we say we stand in solidarity with Jewish Australians at this time.
Likewise, we stand too with the Australian Palestinian community whose families are dying and suffering in this terrible conflict. They too deserve our love and support.
The former PMs say Australia’s success “depends on us not allowing conflict overseas to turn Australians against each other”.
They condemn “the cruel and murderous attack by Hamas terrorists on October 7”.