On October 1, the head of ASIO, Mike Burgess, expressed support for banning Hamas in its entirety. When questioned during a parliamentary inquiry, he stated, “Yes I would support it, but I am not the decision-maker.” Mr Burgess went further, “There’s no doubt the group as a whole does advocate for acts of violence.”
Many would be surprised that the genocidal terrorist organisation Hamas, is not already fully banned. The Australian Government proscribes just Al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas ‘Military Wing’ instead. However, experts say this distinction does not exist in reality. Evidence shows, the so-called military wing takes orders from Hamas’ political echelon and should be seen as a branch of the same tree.
The European Union, USA, Canada, Japan, and others don’t make this strange distinction, choosing to ban the whole entity instead.
To understand Hamas, we only need look at one of the hundreds of barbaric attacks they have carried out, since their founding in December 1987. On a hot summer’s day in August 2001, a Hamas suicide bomber walked into the Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem and exploded, murdering 15 innocent diners, among them 7 children and a pregnant woman. A further 130 people were injured, including Chana Nachenberg, then 31, who remains hospitalised in a permanent vegetative state, more than 20 years after the attack. Her 2 year old daughter was one of the only people in the restaurant to survive unharmed.
The extreme violence carried out by Hamas should come as no surprise. After all, their founding charter, replete with all kinds of antisemitic conspiracy theories, and quotes from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, reads like an Islamic version of the Nazi manifesto.
Article 22 of the Charter blames the Jews for the world’s conflicts, singling out World War I, and both the French and Russian Revolutions. Article 28 accuses Jews of trying to destroy society, of planning to eliminate Islam, and of responsibility for drug trafficking and alcoholism.
Article 13 is straight to the point. No negotiations or settlement with the Jews is possible. Jihad is the only answer.
Despite all the above, an Australian citizen fundraising for Hamas, could argue that the funds were intended for Hamas’ after school programs, not for their rocket making factories or terror tunnels.
We know the distinction is not real, but with the present listing, the authority’s hands are essentially tied.
So, if the head of Australia’s intelligence agency recommends a total ban, it’s astonishing that this advice has not been heeded. Why would anybody oppose banning support for this murderous mob? Let’s examine some of the arguments opponents have raised.
At the Inquiry, Labor MP Anne Aly, questioned what implications listing the entire Hamas organisation would have on anti-Israel protests in Australia, where support for Hamas is often expressed, or on money sent from Australia to Gaza. These are the wrong questions to be asking. Would we be asking these questions about ISIS? If Australian citizens are sending money to a terrorist group, it’s Australia’s responsibility, and if Australians are expressing support for a terrorist organisation, it’s equally our responsibility to deal with it.
Many questioned why Australia was investing so much to keep potential ISIS fighters here, instead of allowing them to leave, and fight in the Syrian civil war. Some argued, that by confiscating their passports and keeping these radicals here, the government was exposing Australian citizens to great risk. We were told that Australia had a responsibility, to ensure our citizens did not contribute to global suffering.
Another argument, that Hamas and other terrorist organisations also do good work, so we must excuse them is weak and flawed. It’s akin to tolerating Salvation Army volunteers if they were to occasionally blow themselves up.
The Parliamentary Inquiry, led by the very capable Senator James Paterson, has heard that even Hamas ‘social services’ heavily encourage terrorism. Families of murderers receive larger payments the more victims they accrue. Its works as a perverse incentive.
The most odious argument is that Australia shouldn’t get involved because Hamas ‘only’ murders Jews in Israel. Ignoring the moral issues, the fact is the majority of the 26 listed terrorist organisations in Australia are ‘one issue’ groups. From the Kurdistan Workers Party to multiple Bangladesh based groups, the Government has no qualms about listing organisations who don’t specifically target Australians.
In this globalised world, if we turn our back to injustice, any of us could be the next victim. One of those diners at the Sbarro Pizzeria that day was Malki Roth, a 15 year old school student who volunteered with disabled children. Malki was born in Melbourne, and an Australian citizen.
Much hype was made about the newest entrant to the proscribed organisations list. While not disputing the ugliness of their message, the Neo-Nazi Sonnenkrieg Division, in contrast to Hamas’s thousands strong body count, appears to have never killed anyone and may only comprise a few dozen losers worldwide. If they cross the hurdle to be listed, surely Hamas flies over it.
Similarly, In Victoria, NSW and nationally, there is growing momentum to ban the swastika. Politicians are proudly telling us it will make us safer. While such a move would certainly be symbolic, there isn’t a neo-Nazi group with 15,000 rockets aimed at Jewish communities.
A cynic would suggest that fear of alienating Muslim voters in marginal Western Sydney seats is impacting a critical national security decision. Luckily, the fan club of Neo-Nazi groups can be measured in the dozens nationally, and their vote doesn’t determine any Western Sydney seats.
The federal government and the Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews are the decision-makers, and they will shortly need to make their decision. This should be an easy decision. As a proud Australian Jew, I am counting on them making the decision to keep my family safe.
Robert Gregory is research and advocacy officer with the Australian Jewish Association.
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