November 2020

MPs honour Yitzhak Rabin

Originally published by The Australian Jewish News on 12 November 2020

A bipartisan motion was moved in federal Parliament this week affirming Australia’s “ongoing commitment” to the late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s vision of a peaceful two-state solution to end the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

The joint resolution – moved by federal Labor MP Josh Burns and Liberal MP Dave Sharma, and supported by fellow parliamentarians Julian Leeser and Mark Dreyfus – marked 25 years since Rabin was assassinated at an anti-violence rally in support of the Oslo peace process.

Describing Rabin as a “remarkable” individual, Burns said the former PM’s death “shocked Israel, shocked the Jewish people, shocked Australia and shocked the world”.

“Rabin was a giant. He fought and stood against not just those who opposed him but those who were on his side,” he said.

Reflecting on his time as Australia’s ambassador to Israel from 2013 to 2017, Sharma said, “The scar that this shocking crime left on Israel, its body politic and its society was still highly visible to me.”

Stating, “Rabin’s career was a remarkable and continuous career of public service and sacrifice dedicated to building the State of Israel,” Sharma added, “The Israel of today – modern, successful, secure and vibrant – is built upon the foundations that Rabin and others like him put in place.”

Noting Rabin “showed courage in seeking to find peace no matter how unsavoury the partner or how great the challenge”, Leeser said, “Rabin had this idea that you don’t wait for peace to come; rather you make peace.”

He added Israel’s recent normalisation agreements with Arab states “well and truly honour the memory and legacy of this remarkable leader”.

Meanwhile, Dreyfus told Parliament Rabin was “one of the great global leaders of the past generation” whose “legacy seems even clearer today than it did at the time of his murder 25 years ago”.

“I never had the honour of meeting prime minister Rabin but, as a friend of Israel and as a friend of peace, on this 25th anniversary of his death, I echo the words of President Clinton, who farewelled his dear friend with the simple but resonant Shalom, chaver – goodbye, friend.”

Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler told The AJN, “We thank Dave Sharma, Josh Burns, Julian Leeser and Mark Dreyfus for speaking to this motion with such heartfelt words.

“The lessons of Rabin’s murder are as important today as they were 25 years ago, and we are pleased that this was recognised in Parliament.”