Armed with an emblematic Palestinian keffiyeh, independent Senator Lidia Thorpe delivered a provocative speech in the Senate chamber, accusing Australia of supporting an “oppressive occupation.” This charge came amidst the parliamentary deliberations following the violent October 7 attacks by Hamas militants on Israel, where Australian leaders were grappling with the nation’s reaction to the escalating hostilities in Gaza.
Senator Thorpe turned heads as she appeared in the Senate donning the keffified, a scarf characteristically associated with the Palestinian people. She expressed her repudiation of the Hamas attacks on Israeli people, before steering the discourse towards the longstanding Palestinian struggle. “Palestinians,” she relayed, “live with generational trauma of dispossession, they continue to fight for sovereignty, liberation, and land back, as do First peoples of this country.”
She pressed on government’s obligation to support both Palestinians and First Nation peoples in their fight against oppression, condemning the incessant violence the Palestinians have endured since 1948. She emotionally dubbed the conflict as “75 years of violent displacement, time, segregation, humiliation, and dehumanization.”
As tension builds, the Israeli defense forces have sustained their procession of troops on the Gaza border, inciting fears of a potential ground invasion in retaliation to the Hamas assault. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese counterbalanced these tensions as he “unequivocally” censured the actions of Hamas. He acknowledged the profound distress the conflict has inflicted on the Australian community. He called on leaders to uphold respect and moral clarity in the face of this violent strife, terming the Hamas attacks as “mass murder on a horrific scale.”
Standing against hate, he emphasized the need to differentiate between Hamas, the enemy, and the Palestinian people. He decried any form of anti-Semitic sentiments, even those voiced by a small group outside Sydney Opera House last week, and called for a respectful and unifying dialogue amidst the politically charged atmosphere.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton used his platform to decry the attacks by Hamas as a “total act of sheer barbarity”, likening it to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Post the militant assault, hundreds rallied in Sydney against the perceived bias towards Israel. Dutton shamed Prime Minister Albanese and Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong for not voicing strong enough condemnation against anti-Jewish sentiments around the Sydney protests.
In contrast, Greens leader Adam Bandt urged the government to oppose a potential ground invasion by Israeli forces in Gaza. He suggested amending a motion that supports Israel’s right to defend itself to explicitly “condemn war crimes perpetrated by the state of Israel”. The motion, he felt, was on the verge of enabling a possible humanitarian catastrophe and war crime.
The final vote in the House of Representatives saw leaders majorly supporting a motion denouncing Hamas’ attacks, with the Greens’ proposition to alter language expressing support for Israeli retaliations unsuccessful.