On the seventh of October, however, chaos broke out throughout Israel. Hamas militants poured across the border from Gaza in large numbers in order to murder innocent bystanders, some of them were young people attending a music festival. Several military sites came under attack, and as a result, hundreds of people were held hostage. sights of severe psychological pain and horrific carnage saturated the media sources. These sights were gut-wrenching. The entire globe paused to catch its breath. Given the vicious character of the attack, it seemed inevitable that the Netanyahu government would respond with deadly force to the situation.
When it comes to effectively handling complexity on the international stage, the past few weeks have been high-octane ones for the Albanese government. In a moment, we will discuss how to maintain the United States’ engagement in the region, a rapprochement in China, and the management of climate change and security in the Pacific. However, we need to begin our story in Sydney, little over a month ago, at an event that appeared to be a turning point in the relationship that exists between the federal government of Australia and the Islamic community.
Anthony Albanese paid a visit to the Lakemba Mosque on the 6th of October. At that time, the prime minister was in the final phases of a referendum campaign that he was losing, and he was rallying support from churches for the voice to parliament. Albanese stated to the local community that he was “deeply moved” by how strongly Australians of Muslim faith had rallied in support of the constitutionally enshrined advisory body for Indigenous people. Albanese was moved by how strongly Australians of Muslim religion had rallied in support of the advisory committee. It was a tremendous amount of signaling and outreach on their part.
The minister of foreign affairs was the first person to provide a statement on behalf of Australia to events that were occurring very quickly. Penny Wong issued an uncompromising statement in which she condemned the attacks carried out by Hamas and supported Israel’s right to defend itself. Wong, who was aware of everything that was going to happen after this point, urged everyone to exercise caution and watch out for civilian casualties.
Albanese gave an interview to the ABC the following morning. That Sunday, I was a part of the Insiders panel, and I watched as the prime minister exited the green room to meet with Israeli ambassadors in a more private setting away from the ears of journalists who were listening in on the conversation. During his appearance on the program, the Prime Minister defended Israel’s constitutionally protected right to self-defense. When Albanese was asked if he was afraid about what might happen after this, he responded by saying that “of course people are worried about escalation.” He went on to say that the strike carried out by Hamas was unprecedented.
Peter Dutton barely squandered any of his time. He was quite critical of the government’s endorsement of moderation. This clap back was a clear statement of intent domestically: the leader of the Liberal Party planned to weaponize any kind of statements that were not “Israel is entirely justified in whatever it chooses to do next.”
At the opposite end of the political spectrum, the Green Party strengthened its position. Jordon Steele-John, the party’s spokeswoman on foreign affairs, stated on the 8th of October that the attack carried out by Hamas was in violation of international law. But he insisted that the setting of the growing conflict must not be disregarded in any way. According to what Steele-John had to say, “for there to be peace, there must be an end to illegal occupation of Palestinian territories by the state of Israel.”
Because of the shifting policy views that Labor has taken on Middle Eastern issues, Dutton recognized an opportunity. When there are significant events taking place, it is always difficult to keep messaging clear and concise. A political opportunity was also seen by the Greens, and this was due to the fact that, although Labor has been moving in the direction of projecting a more pro-Palestine attitude, the question of how far to go and in what context to do so is still up for internal debate.
The national convention of Labor has given its blessing to a motion that urges the government to acknowledge Palestine as a sovereign state. Wong, on the other hand, has chosen not to propose a timeline for when this might take place. Additionally, the decision that Scott Morrison made to recognize West Jerusalem as capital of Israel has been overturned by the government. As soon as the change became public knowledge, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called in the Australian Ambassador to give him a diplomatic reprimand.
In addition, Labor has resumed using the term “Occupied Palestinian Territories” to refer to both Gaza and the West Bank. Wong informed the Labor caucus that the government was “strengthening its opposition to settlements by affirming that they are illegal under international law and a significant obstacle to peace” in the month of August. According to what my colleague Daniel Hurst disclosed the previous month, this change, which was made in advance of another Labor national convention, was based on advice from Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade. Wong was informed in February by officials that tensions in Israel and the Palestinian territories were rising, and that there was a likelihood of “further violence, an expansion of Israel’s settlement enterprise, and more civilian deaths expected.” In other words, the entire territory was a potential source of ignition. Evidently, it took a number of months to figure out how and when to alter the terminology.
The terrorist attack then took place in the beginning of October. The war that broke out after the first one caused significant suffering to groups of people who had moved to Australia from other countries. People who have family members living in Israel are concerned about the captives’ potential release. They are concerned about the total number of fatalities. Jewish communities in Australia have good reason to be concerned for their safety in light of the recent rise in communal tensions and the resurgence of violent antisemitism in the country.
Given the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, the fact that Israeli forces are closing in on the center of Gaza City, the fact that the death toll has now reached more than 10,000 people, including more than 4,000 children, and the fact that humanitarian “pauses” have been in the works for quite some time, Australian-Palestinian communities in Labor’s electoral heartland are also in a state of acute despair.
People who have experienced traumatic events do not have the capacity to have a nuanced debate about the fundamental rights and wrongs that are fueling the current conflict. In a nuanced discussion, it is stated that both Israel and Palestine have the right to exist behind borders that have been agreed and are secure; this fundamental principle is at the core of the two-state solution. However, when people’s homes resemble war zones, they do not have the energy to participate in a seminar on international relations. The feeling is crimson and raw.
If we take a look at recent demonstrations held in favor of Palestinians who are imprisoned in Gaza, we can see that the anger is being focused especially at the prime minister. The prime minister is a longtime leftist who has a considerable history of supporting Palestine. Protesters in Melbourne waved banners that said “Albanese blood on your hands,” “Albanese can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide,” and “Albo, you coward, blood on your hands” before Albanese left for China the week before.
Large-scale protests over long-standing issues and conflicts often draw the participation of a wider variety of protest groups and movements; hence, some of the current activity will reflect a broad left critique of the current Labor government. However, it is obvious that Albanese is getting pushback from certain members of the Australian-Palestinian community. Some members of the community obviously have the impression that the government has stopped listening to their concerns and stopped modifying their rhetoric and their policy positions.
To better illustrate my idea, let us now go back to the Lakemba Mosque. When Albanese went to members of Australia’s Islamic community to thank them for supporting the recognition of Australia’s First Nations peoples, the Prime Minister of Australia noted that he had recently heard a teacher explain why it was vital for Muslims to be an ally for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Albanese went to thank members of Australia’s Islamic community for supporting the recognition of Australia’s First Nations peoples. The educator Saja Alam had said that “to be a Muslim is to stand for justice” when she was speaking to SBS. At this time, the general consensus among communities is that the Albanian government is not advocating strongly enough for justice for Palestine and the Palestinian people.
The meeting of the House of Representatives is scheduled on Monday. After concluding fruitful trips to the United States, China, and the Pacific, Albanese is scheduled to arrive back in Canberra. This criticism from members of parliament regarding the anger felt by Palestinian Australians is already being relayed to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I have a feeling that the leadership will hear more about it the following week.
Over the course of the last few weeks, we have witnessed Albanese successfully thread the needle between two superpowers, China and the United States, who are engaged in a strategic struggle with one another to further their own interests. That was quite the complicated dance of diplomacy. After resolving diplomatic tensions in Beijing, Albanese shifted his focus to expanding Australia’s sphere of influence in the Pacific by convincing island nations that Australia should be their partner of choice. The reference was more likely to be made to Australia than to China.
The Prime Minister needs to demonstrate the same level of dexterity at home with regard to this matter. Anyone who pretends that Australia is a player in the politics of the Middle East on a global scale is taking advantage of you. Australia is not a player. On the other hand, the internal aftermath of a war in that region has substantial ramifications for the social cohesiveness of the country as a whole. If Labor chooses to ignore the concerns of these areas, there will undoubtedly be a great deal of commentary written on the electoral consequences of this choice. However, there is an even more pressing necessity at play here. In perilous and divisive times, national leaders are responsible for keeping their country united.
When it comes to social cohesion in Australia, reputable data indicates that it has been on the wane ever since the nation successfully passed the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the Social Cohesion report compiled by the Scanlon Foundation in 2022, which is a research study that has been mapping the mood of a heterogeneous nation since 2007, sentiment reached a tipping point in 2022.
Changing economic circumstances were the primary cause of the move to the negative direction. The survey found that a person’s financial well-being is the single most accurate indicator of the degree to which a society would remain cohesive.
The 2023 survey will be made available the following week.
It is going to be really interesting to find out what it says.