Stand on the Right Side of History, Rabbis Implore Anthony Albanese

The nation’s leading rabbis – who were personally assured by Anthony Albanese he would ­“unequivocally fight anti-­­Semitism” have implored him to show moral clarity and reject a bid to put Israel’s Prime Minister on trial, as Labor refused to say if it would arrest Benjamin Netanyahu if he set foot in Australia. The rabbis’ call came as Peter Dutton warned that a future Coalition government could cut ties with the International Criminal Court over its prosecutor’s bid to arrest Mr. Netanyahu and his Defence chief Yoav Gallant alongside three Hamas terrorists. If the ICC issues the warrants, the Albanese government will be technically obligated to arrest the Israeli leaders if they travel to Australia. But a government source refused to speculate on such a possibility, saying “we don’t engage in hypotheticals”. Mr. Dutton urged the Prime Minister to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with US President Joe Biden to condemn the warrants bid, as America flagged possible sanctions against the ICC.

A day after Mr. Albanese refused to comment on ICC prosecutor Karim Khan’s warrants bid, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said Australia respected the role of the court and the issuing of any warrants was “fundamentally an issue for the ICC”. But Dr Chalmers said there could be “no equivalence between Hamas, the terrorist organisation, and Israel”. Rabbi Levi Wolff, from Sydney’s Central Synagogue, said the government needed to be “clear and decisive” on the warrant’s application, and stand “on the correct side of history”. “In this sensitive and difficult time for Jewish Australians, we look to our leaders for strong moral clarity on issues pertaining to Israel’s self-defence war against Hamas, triggered by the unspeakable violence perpetrated on October 7, and Hamas’s outspoken desire to repeat such actions,” Rabbi Wolff said. “The preposterous allegations by the ICC demand strong language, such as the statements we heard from Joe Biden, Peter Dutton, and Alexander Downer, who, like us, feel ashamed of Australia’s status as a signatory to the ICC following the recent news.”

Chabad Youth Rabbi Moshe Kahn said it was “absolutely shocking” that Israel’s democratically elected Prime Minister had been subjected to the same treatment by the ICC prosecutor as Hamas terrorists. “Australia should be unequivocally denouncing the ICC’s decision and aligning with President Biden’s stance,” Rabbi Khan said. “Nonetheless, I appreciate the clarification that there is no moral equivalence between Israel and the terrorist organisation Hamas.” The rabbis were among those who attended a meeting with Mr. Albanese this month, when the Prime Minister dismissed pro-Palestine protesters encamped at universities as “Trots” and troublemakers and vowed to take a hard line on anti-Semitism. Rabbi Kahn said Mr. Albanese had “indeed taken a stronger stance” against anti-Jewish hate speech. “However, further actions by all are necessary to comprehensively address anti-Semitism and support the Jewish community.” Mr. Dutton said he was “very open” to rescinding Australian support for the ICC over the prosecutors’ warrants application. He called on Mr. Albanese to reject the prosecutor’s “terrible decision”. His comments came as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was prepared to work with Republicans to develop bipartisan sanctions against the ICC. Mr. Blinken said he was committed to acting against the “profoundly wrong-headed decision” which would complicate efforts to secure peace in Gaza. “I welcome working with you on that,” Mr. Blinken told Republican senator Lindsey Graham in a congressional hearing.

Former UN assistant secretary-general Ramesh Thakur, who helped establish the ICC, said the prosecutor’s pursuit of Israeli leaders alongside Hamas terrorists was “a grotesque inversion of international criminal justice”. Mr. Thakur said he had come to question his role in its creation. He said: “I never expected the ICC would be weaponised against democracies defending themselves against savage terrorist groups.” He said Israel’s conduct could not be compared with Hamas’s “mini-Holocaust” on October 7, in which it boasted Israel would “taste new ways of death”. “In this context, I think it is reasonable to ask whether Khan would have indicted both (Winston) Churchill and (Adolf) Hitler for mass civilian deaths in World War II,” Mr. Thakur said. Mr. Downer, who signed Australia up to the ICC, accused Mr. Khan of “destroying” the court. Former deputy prime minister John Anderson backed his former colleague, describing the ICC’s decision as a disgrace. “We ought to make absolutely clear what we think of it and I don’t see how it could be supported,” Mr. Anderson said.

“The decision looks and sounds disgraceful. It is absolutely repugnant for the ICC to draw a moral equivalency between what Hamas has done and what Israel has done. Does anybody seriously suggest that we should have stopped pursuing the Nazis during the Second World War because German civilians were being harmed?” He said the Albanese government needed to show greater leadership in combating the rise of anti-Semitism. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry said if the ICC granted the prosecutor’s application to issue the warrants, then those named in the warrants would no longer be able to travel to Australia, or any of the 124 countries that were parties to the court.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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