Announcing its intention to label Hamas in its entirety a terrorist organization, Australia joined a list of intellectually honest and morally consistent countries who define the organization for what it is; a murderous Islamist terrorist organization.
This important step follows a similar decision taken at the end of last year, when Australia designated Hezbollah, of similar ilk, as a terrorist organization. Although some countries only focus on the military wing of the organization as a terror group, designating the entire organization, which unapologetically calls for genocide, sends an important message that terrorism will not be tolerated.
Founded in the late 1980’s by Sheikh Ahmad Yassin as a spinoff of the radical Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, is an acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement (Harakat Al-Mukawama Al-Islamiya). Dedicated, as per its charter, to “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine”, Hamas seeks to destroy the sovereign State of Israel, advocating for violent resistance, jihad, in Israel and beyond.
Quoting from a range of historically anti-Semitic sources, such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the organization’s charter alleges that “World Zionism” plots “to remove one Arab state after another”. Drawing on a range of “religious” sources, their charter also claims, “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, killing the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees”.
On a more practical level, Hamas since its inception has conducted dozens of suicide bombings against civilians on buses and in restaurants, and fired tens of thousands of rockets indiscriminately at civilians. While targeting Israeli civilians, Hamas unforgivably hides its own armaments deep within its own civilian population, abusing helpless Palestinians as human shields. Firing at civilians, while cowering behind their own civilians is a double war crime. Furthermore, Hamas continues to hold hostage at least two Israeli civilians, with no access to the Red Cross, in stark contravention of international humanitarian law.
Jewish communities around the world also remain targets, openly threatened by organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas who unabashedly call for the destruction of the Jewish state and the murder of Jews around the world. Supported by the world’s biggest state sponsor of terror, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the danger which Hamas poses to Israel, Diaspora Jewry, as well as free and open societies all around the world, cannot be understated.
Australia itself is no stranger to the dangers posed by Islamist terrorism. This past Christmas saw the counter terrorism police arrest jihadist, Daniel Greenfield from Sutherland, who allegedly was in the advanced stages of planning terror attacks. Additionally, there have been large scale attacks thwarted, including a 2017 “Islamic-inspired” plan to bring down an airliner, and the 2009 Holsworthy Barracks plot, not to mention the 2003 plot to bomb the country’s electricity grid.
The designation of such entities as terror organizations is an integral part of thwarting the violence they preach and bloodshed they cause. With thousands of former Islamic State fighters having now returned to their countries of origin, the challenge these fighters are bound to pose to authorities cannot be overstated. Aside from potential terror attacks they themselves may perpetrate, they also serve to radicalize others, romanticizing jihad and championing the inhumanity of their violent and extremist interpretation of Islam.
Us Australians often feel that we live on a faraway island, and that problems “over there”, are not problems, “over here”. Yet we would be wise to remember Martin Niemöller’s famous poem, “First They Came”, about the cowardice of “it’s not my problem”; and the eventual ramifications of being a bystander to hate and intolerance. Today we live in a small-interconnected world, whereby the incitement against human rights, democracy, tolerance and open societies we believe in can cross oceans in just a few milliseconds. There is indeed no such thing as splendid isolation.
At the recently established Neishlos Foundation, we therefore look to empower freedom-loving individuals everywhere to speak up and stand up against those – like Hamas – whose veins are filled with hatred, intolerance, homophobia, misogyny and antisemitism. It is too easy to be a bystander and simply claim that this is not our problem. We therefore must ensure that our generation is educated to be upstanders in the face of prejudice and hatred.
Australia’s decision is therefore a badge of honour and one that will hopefully inspire more like-minded nations to take similar steps. This move is more than just a statement. It is a moral imperative.