Le shanah ha ba’ah bi Yerushalayim,next year in Jerusalem: the words spoken at the conclusion of every Passover Seder.
Jerusalem has been at the centre of Jewish life, culturally and spiritually, since long before Jesus Christ walked its streets and long before the advent of Islam.
Archaeological evidence objectively demonstrates the connection of Jerusalem to the Jewish people for more than 3000 years. Antiquities don’t lie; relics don’t have political agendas. Yet while the science of climate change is embraced as gospel by the UN, the scientific proof of ancient Jewish habitation of Jerusalem is not.
The UN General Assembly passed a resolution last Thursday declaring “any actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever”.
A total of 151 countries voted for the resolution, six against and nine abstained, including Australia. We should not have abstained; it is inconsistent with our strong position in support of Israel.
Contrary to the UN’s anti-Semitic lies, for centuries Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish people. That is until AD70, when all but one wall of the Second Temple was destroyed and the Jews were expelled by the Romans.
In 1967, Jerusalem finally returned to Jewish control after the tiny state of Israel resoundingly defeated its vastly larger Arab neighbouring states in the Six-Day War. Since then Jerusalem has been a peaceful international city, with Jews, Christians, Muslims, Baha'i and other faiths all worshipping freely under the control of the state of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.
The language of the UN’s resolution last week fails to distinguish between East and West Jerusalem. This is a disturbing development. West Jerusalem has never been part of the Palestinian peace process.
Indeed, as Dvir Abramovich, the chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, has stated: “Anyone that objects to siting embassies in West Jerusalem does so because they reject Jewish sovereignty over any part of Israel.”
The right to self-determination is encapsulated in article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Why is the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their ancestral lands questioned and delegitimised by the UN time and time again?
Why is the capital city of every other country in the world recognised but not Israel’s?
At the Liberal Party’s Victorian division state council this year, I was honoured to move a motion that called for Australia’s embassy to be relocated to Jerusalem. I was supported overwhelmingly by the more than 1000 delegates present. It was a powerful symbolic moment, affirming the Liberal Party’s commitment to Zionism.
As the US endeavours to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Australia should lead the way. Australia was the first country to vote in support of the establishment of the state of Israel 70 years ago. The Victorian Liberal Party has recently announced that if it wins next year’s state election it will open a Victorian government trade office in Jerusalem.
Now the Turnbull government has the historic opportunity to make a stand with our great friend Israel. West Jerusalem is where Australia’s embassy — and everyone else’s — belongs. At very least, Australians visiting Jerusalem, the capital city of the sovereign state of Israel, are reasonably entitled to the expectation of a consulate: a safe place to turn to in the event of a terrorist attack, which recently occurred during the visit of a Victorian parliamentary delegation, led by Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy.
Through the decades we have stood with Israel, united by common values and mutual respect. Today Israel needs its friends more than ever. Now is the time for true haverim to stick together.
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