Peter Costello


Jewish Community Solidarity Rally



11.00 AM


To Ambassador Levy, Grahame Leonard, Philip Chester, Nina Bassat, Michael Danby, Consul General David Lyon and to Helen Shardey and to my friends in the Jewish community I say Shalom.

When we witnessed the hijacked aeroplanes plow into the World Trade Centre in New York and into the Pentagon and into the landscape of Pennsylvania, we had seen a co-ordinated and premeditated attack of terror on a scale which the world has never had to endure before.

It was of course primarily an attack on the United States. It was an attack on the financial institutions of the United States and its political institutions and its military institutions. It was an attack on a country which values freedom.

But it was more. It was an attack on all the peoples of the world who value freedom. It was an attack on the values that bind our countries together in a shared sense of ideals and values. It was an attack on not just the American people but on Australians too who died, and on Jews and on Christians and on Muslims. It was an attack on civilization itself.

And the Australian Government immediately moved to strengthen our defences against terrorism. We heightened security and protection for the Jewish community institutions and the leaders of the Jewish community. And we invoked for the first time in 50 years the ANZUS Alliance which says that an attack on the United States is considered an attack on Australia and within our constitutional obligations we will act to defend each other.

We realise that terrorism is not just something that afflicts America, it afflicts all of us. The fight against terrorism is a fight for all of us. And I think for many Australians they realised in a new way the kind of terror that the people on the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem live with on a daily basis. Random, indiscriminate terror. And the fight against terror is a fight for all freedom loving people. Its the fight for Americans and Australians and Israelis. Those who want to assert the right to live in freedom and peace, to go about their business without having their lives threatened.

The Australian Government stands squarely with the people of Israel in recognising and demanding Israels right to exist within secure and peaceful borders.

The right of the Israeli people to be defended against random and indiscriminate terror. And we call on the Palestinian Authority to exercise its influence to reduce and to halt random acts of terror. We call upon leaders of goodwill on both sides to resume meetings and peace discussions and we call on all of the peace-loving people in the Middle East to work towards a just, lasting and durable peace settlement.

But we also affirm that the Australian Government will take part in the international co-ordinated fight against terror. Let me make it clear. This is not a religious fight. This is a fight against terror. And we call upon all who oppose terror whether they be Christian or Muslim or Jewish, regardless of their religious background to join the fight for freedom and the open society. We call upon all in Australia to respect the views of others. We denounce attacks on mosques, just as we denounce attacks on churches, just as we denounce attacks on synagogues here in Australia. We are fighting for the open society. We are fighting for religious freedom. We are fighting for respect and tolerance for all peoples regardless of their nationality and regardless of their religion. We are defending religious freedom and the open society and those of us in the Australian community and the Jewish community who want to reach out and denounce violence and terror will stand firm for this principle, for openness, for freedom, for toleration, for the ending of terror and the right of people to live peaceably in countries which defend their rights and their freedoms.

Thank you all very much.

23 Sep 2001

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