An atmosphere of sadness and unease will hang over this year’s Hanukkah celebrations.
Thoughts will dwell on those 1,200 innocent civilians who lost their lives when Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October in one of the most barbaric terrorist attacks the world has known.
Prayers will be said for those Israelis and others still held hostage.
Hanukkah this year will be a time for people of Jewish faith – and all those who cherish democratic values – to gather in solidarity in a strong statement condemning the rise of anti-Semitism taking place across the world.
On our own shores, the events at the Sydney Opera House, in Caulfield, and at the Crowne Plaza hotel were an abomination.
Any Australian who chants slogans advocating for the slaughter of Jews disgraces our national character and is unworthy of the privilege of Australian citizenship.
It is the same hateful thoughts and behaviours which ultimately led to the Holocaust.
Christopher Hitchens said that anti-Semitism ‘is to be regarded not as the enemy of the Jewish people alone, but as the common enemy of humanity and of civilisation’.
I will continue to call out and unequivocally condemn acts of anti-Semitism.
And I will continue to urge that there are severe consequences for those who commit anti-Semitic acts.
Only by holding those accountable for hate speech can we ensure we turn the tide of anti-Semitism in our country.
The story of Hanukkah and the rededication of the Temple in 164 BC reminds us of the importance of faith, bravery, and unity in repelling oppression.
Over the eight days of the Festival of Lights this year, may Australians of Jewish faith find comfort in the fact that you are not alone in the fight against evil.
You have many friends and allies.
And it is our collective duty to speak up and show that Australia has no tolerance for that which must not be tolerated.
My thoughts and best wishes to all Australians of Jewish faith for Hanukkah.
7 December 2023
View the Opposition Leader’s video message here.