A delegation of Australian Muslim scholars has visited Gaza and met with Hamas senior political leader Ismail Haniyeh…a visit which may be subject to a government investigation.
The delegation was led by Australian Grand Mufti Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed who is considered a ‘moderate’ and who reportedly said,
“I am pleased to stand on the land of jihad to learn from its sons and I have the honour to be among the people of Gaza where the weakness always becomes strength, the few becomes many and the humiliation turns into pride”....A spokesperson for Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr told J-Wire:
“It is unlawful to offer financial support for Hamas, which Australia considers a terrorist entity. There are also additional prohibitions on interaction with the Hamas Brigade which is a proscribed terrorist organisation.It is not unlawful to travel to Gaza as a private citizen but the Australian Government strongly advises against it.
It is the responsibility of every Australian to abide by the restrictions on interacting with Hamas. Allegations that any Australian had breached the restrictions on dealings with Hamas would be subject to examination by government agencies.”
Julie Bishop, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Foreign Minister told J-Wire:
“If reports about the Mufti’s comments and conduct in Gaza are accurate, this is an extremely disturbing development.
It is important that all community and religious leaders support non-violent resolution of the tensions between Israel and the Palestinian people.
The Mufti’s reported comments appear to be supportive of the approach that Hamas has taken, which has involved thousands of rockets fired into Israel in an attempt to terrorise and kill civilians.
The Mufti must immediately withdraw these remarks, condemn the attacks on Israel by Hamas and other extremist groups, recognise Israel’s right to exist and call for a peaceful negotiated resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.”
Executive Director of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council Dr Colin Rubenstein told J-Wire:
“If the Arabic media reports accurately reflect the tone and intent of their visit, the recent Australian Muslim delegation to meet HAMAS in Gaza led by Australian Mufti Dr. Ibrahim Abu Muhammad, is a cause for serious concern.
It is incumbent upon responsible Australian leaders and officials to stress to the delegation members that religious or community leaders offering open support for HAMAS profoundly contradicts the core values of Australian multiculturalism, such as tolerance, non-violence, mutual respect and the rule of law.
HAMAS is a terrorist organization, subject to Australian financial sanctions, which is engaged in terrorism and war crimes, is rife with extreme antisemitism, and is dedicated, in word and deed, to the violent destruction of a friendly State. It is incomprehensible that any one with pretensions of moral authority would hold up HAMAS-led Gaza as a model from which Australians can learn.
Australian leaders should also inquire of the delegation whether they conveyed to Gaza’s rulers the commitment of the Australian government and people to Israel’s right to live in peace and security and to a negotiated two-state outcome. Further, the delegation must be asked whether they made clear to HAMAS the necessity to emulate Australian rejection of antisemitism and all other forms of intolerance and terrorism, and if not, why not."
Executive Director of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Peter Wertheim added:
“Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed has said that the purpose of his mission is to learn from Gaza about how to defend his rights. There is nothing he can learn from Gaza and its Hamas rulers that can possibly have any legitimate application in Australia. His visit and his comments undermine Australia’s efforts to build a peaceful, inclusive and democratic multicultural society.”