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Speech by Alexander Downer to American Jewish Committee

AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE

102ND ANNUAL DINNER

PRESENTATION OF DIPLOMATIC EXCELLENCE AWARD TO FORMER AUSTRALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ALEXANDER DOWNER

The Hon. Alexander Downer MP
Member for Mayo
Speech to American Jewish Committee on the occasion of the conferral of the Ramer Award for Excellence in Diplomacy

Thursday May 1 2008

 "It is a great honour to be presented with this award by the American Jewish community. Indeed, I feel humbled that you have chosen me to be the recipient of an award which commemorates the extra-ordinary contribution to the American Jewish community by the Ramers.

The Australian and American Jewish communities have a lot in common. In both cases Jews have found in our countries the peace and tolerance which was denied them over the centuries in Europe and the Middle East: but they have not only found freedom and tolerance in Australia and America , they have contributed mightily to our two societies.

You haven't yet elected a Jewish President whereas we have had two Jewish Governors' General, the Governor General being the de facto head of state in Australia . But in both our cases the contribution Jewish people have made to science, academia, literature the arts and business has been magnificent.

 An embattled, denigrated and persecuted people has come to our shores and in finding freedom has said 'let's build this place'.

 It's part of what makes our societies great.

In 1918, Australians and Americans went into battle together for the first time. We've done so many times since. It was at the Battle of Le Hamel, this being the first major American military action on European soil. Those of you with a sense of history may think the Americans fought under the redoubtable General Pershing but in this their first major battle in Europe they fought under the Australian commander, General Sir John Monash. Monash by the way was Jewish - so you won't be surprised to learn we won the battle!

In many ways, Australians and Americans are the most natural of allies. Our countries were settled by peoples fleeing persecution and discrimination and who sought the opportunity to achieve prosperity away from the class based elitism of the old world. We grew to love a life of individual freedom and to place equal value on every person.

We confronted and still confront three great adversaries over the last 100 years. We fought the bloody and heartless totalitarianism of fascism and we won. We fought the intolerance, cruelty and incompetence of communism and we won. And today we fight the fanaticism and ideological insanity of Islamic extremism - and we must win that fight as well.

Islamic extremism has several manifestations. There is Al Qaeda and its Asian variant, Jemaah Islamia. There is the Iranian theocracy. There is the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan .

 These people are haters and many of them are killers. They hate our open, free societies that respect men and women equally. They want to destroy democracy and equality of opportunity in Iraq , in Afghanistan , in Indonesia and in Israel . They want to destroy modernity and plunge the world back into the Middle Ages. They want Taliban-style regimes not just in Afghanistan but throughout the world, particularly the Muslim world: regimes where girls are denied schooling, where the most powerful are chosen by a few zealots not the people, where the tools of modernity are disbanded and poverty becomes endemic.

Our great countries stand in their way.

 This is a tough fight because we are confronting people who have no concern for human life.  No act of barbarism is beyond these people.

 To win we need to be clear eyed. This war is not popular with everyone, it's expensive and it's costing the lives of our young men and women.

 But please, I implore you, contemplate the alternative: Victory for Al Qaeda in Sunni Iraq, the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan , Hamas in total control of both Gaza and the West Bank, a Hezbollah-dominated government in Lebanon and what then? The Moslem Brotherhood taking control in Egypt, the Gulf States swept up in the euphoria of a resurgent, extremist Wahabiism. Would newly democratic Indonesia - the world's largest Islamic country succumb to extremism? Would New York again and Sydney become front line cities in the great ideological battle of our time?

 And let's think about democratic, freedom-loving Israel . For those of us who live in Australia or America it is hard to conceive of life in a tiny country a fraction the size of our own, living cheek by jowl with people who want to destroy you.

It is easy for Australians, Americans and Europeans in the relative security of our homes to lecture the Israeli government to be more accommodating with its enemies, to criticise Israel for erecting a security barrier, to complain that Prime Minister Olmet won't hug a Hamas leader, to deplore Israeli attacks on rocket bases in Southern Lebanon and Gaza and Israeli attacks on Hamas terrorist leaders in Gaza and the West Bank. It's easy to lecture. But it is harder to understand.

 One of the lessons of history is to understand your adversary. The West professes with genuine sincerity to believe in
Israel 's right to exist within secure borders. It argues for the two state solution as the only viable option for peace in the Middle East . They are right to do so. It is the only option.

But what some in the West, including a good number of Americans and Australians, don't understand is there are many in the Middle East who don't accept the two-state solution and Israel 's right to exist as a separate State.

 Hamas and Hezbollah believe in the destruction of the Israeli State . That is bad enough. But behind them lies the power, the finance and the weapons of Iran . When President Ahmadinejad  says he wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, he means it. He believes there should be no Jewish State of Israel.

Demands that Israel negotiate with those who wish to destroy it are unreasonable and worse: those demands weaken Israel 's diplomatic strength and help to undermine community support for Israel in Western countries.

 Indeed I will go further: there has been a constant stream of criticism of Israel particularly from Europe and elements of the United Nations for each and every one of the defensive measures it takes. Building a security barrier is wrong, destroying terrorist bases is wrong, attacking terrorist leaders and planners is wrong, trying to stop missile attacks on villages in Northern and Southern Israel is wrong. It doesn't leave Israel with too many options.

 These criticisms have been particularly vehement in much of the Western media. That has had an effect on public opinion which has become increasingly hostile to Israel .

 But Israel is a democracy. No Israeli leader can turn his or her back on the struggle against those who wish to destroy
 Israel . The world needs to respect that.

 We also need to send out again and again a simple and clear message to the international community that peace in the Middle East can never come until Israelis are allowed to sleep in peace.

 That message needs to be transmitted not just in Europe and America. Asia needs to hear and understand that message as      well.

  Today, as the balance of global power shifts to the Asia Pacific region, your campaigns to ensure people understand the truth of the Middle East conflict must extend to China, Japan, India, Korea and Indonesia. Those countries are going to count for a great deal more in international fora in the future. But at present they are hearing just one side of the argument. When I have spoken about the Middle East in Asia I have felt somewhat lonely!

 When I first heard last year of the destruction of a North Korean-built nuclear facility in Syria , I thought its destruction was a triumph. It was a blow for peace. What horrors would have occurred years from now if that project had survived?  But the existence of this project, discovered only at a relatively late stage of development, reminds us of the immense dangers Israelis live with day by day.

 Ladies and Gentlemen, these are tough times.We have to prevail over Islamic extremism. Liberal democracy has, once more, to triumph. But it won't happen by wishing and hoping: it will only happen through courage and action.

  I know what your public are saying, I know there is pain at the costs both human and financial.  But the true test of the statesman is to do the right thing by a troubled world not play to a gallery.

 Thank you again for this great honour: whether our political leaders are popular or not, our two great countries will always be the great beacons of hope to billions of people around the world who crave the liberties we are blessed to enjoy. And make no mistake, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel in its struggle to secure peace and freedom".

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Yes you are right david.. and they dont mix becuase the Quran says that they are NOT to be friends with us other than for the cause of Allah. I just recieved an email today from a friend of mine who is doing her best to help Israel and it is just horrifying.. And yes there has been much evil done in the name of religion but unlike Islam it is not written in other holy books to go out and slaughter all who will not believe.. this is what is giving rise to the world wide slaughter that is going on today not. All other religions talk of peace, love, caring etc, and if their people dont carry this out it is not the fault of their god, but with Islam it is their god who tells them to kill all who will not submit..Mohammad raided village acter village, destroying as he went. he himself raped and killed.. An example for Muslims to follow today, and they do just that. They do what they do with their clerics blessing.. see the hundreds of clerics and imams who teach hatred and killing..if it is not part if the quran it is strange how their own dont stop it..

Posted by Gaye on 2008-05-20 07:19:53 GMT


Sorry David, I miss understood you.. and you are so right. I just wish that our leaders would themselves read the muslim books instead of taking counsel from Muslims who are allowed to lie for the cause of allah.. I also have problems understanding how an intelligent person can follow such a religion.. Do you think it is gaining or falling apart???

Posted by Gaye on 2008-05-18 10:50:15 GMT


David you have to realise that they do not count what they do as terrorism, they are getting rid of the evil in the world (us) for allah thus they are being good servants for Allah, so to them they are being wonderful faithful followers of Allah and Mohammad, and of course are praised by everyone for doing so. This is why there is no outrage at tha horrors what muslims are doing world wide or at the horrors that their clerics/imams are teaching against the infidels. Qur’an 8:67 “It is not fitting for any prophet to have prisoners until he has made a great slaughtered in the land.” Qur’an 8:7 “Allah wished to confirm the truth by His words: ‘Wipe the infidels out to the last.’” Qur’an 8:12 “I shall terrorize the infidels. So wound their bodies and incapacitate them because they oppose Allah and His Apostle.” Ishaq:327 “Allah said, ‘A prophet must slaughter before collecting captives. A slaughtered enemy is driven from the land. Muhammad, you craved the desires of this world, its goods and the ransom captives would bring. But Allah desires killing them to manifest the religion.’” Tabari VIII:116/Ishaq:511 “So Muhammad began seizing their herds and their property bit by bit. He conquered home by home. The Messenger took some people captive, including Safiyah and her two cousins. The Prophet chose Safiyah for himself.” Bukhari:V5B59N512 “The Prophet had their men killed, their children and woman taken captive.” Bukhari:V5B59N516 “When Allah’s Apostle fought or raided people we raised our voices saying, ‘Allahu-Akbar! Allahu-Akbar! None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.’” Ishaq:285 “Then the Apostle went raiding in the month of Rabi u’l-Awwal making for the Quraysh. Then he raided the Quraysh by way of Dinar.” Qur’an 8:39 “Fight them until all opposition ends and all submit to Allah.” Qur’an 8:39 “So fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief [non-Muslims]) and all submit to the religion of Allah alone (in the whole world).” Ishaq:324 “He said, ‘Fight them so that there is no more rebellion, and religion, all of it, is for Allah only. Allah must have no rivals.’” Ishaq:300 “I am fighting in Allah’s service. This is piety and a good deed. In Allah’s war I do not fear as others should. For this fighting is righteous, true, and good.” Muslim:C9B1N31 “I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify to the fact that there is no god but Allah, and believe in me (that) I am the Messenger and in all that I have brought.” This is only just a tiny portion of what we would call horror verses, which they would call being faithful verses to Allah. It is not tiny little Israel that is the problem it is Islam and what they teach.

Posted by Gaye on 2008-05-18 06:08:20 GMT


davidrev, I cant agree with you, Muslims are not ashamed they are proud and arrogant as they feel that they are better than us. Their hatred for us comes from their holy books, read the last three quarter of the Quran and others of their books for yourself, I will put a few verses in ther for you to see what their reasons are for slaughtering tens of thousands of non muslims every year.. most of which the media doesnt print.. Mohammads life was one of horror and he spread horror.. it was Mohammad who skited that the chased the Jews off their land slaughtering them as he went or taking them as slaves, and raping them.. one woman I will put her hell in here for you to see and this is the man that they worship today. Ebn Hisham, in El Sira El Nabawiya (the biography of the prophet), volume2 part3 page 118-143 & part 4 page 205-206, publisher Dar El Geel, Beirut: Muhammad rape Rihana Bent Amro ibn Khenakah from the Jewish tribe of Bani Koreyza, the same day he killed her husband, her brothers, and 900 men (he beheaded every male that started to have pubic hair and up) in front of her eyes. He asked her to marry him, but she refused and insulted him, she wanted to be killed. He took her as a slave (right hand possession), and use to rape her after tying her hands and feet.

Posted by Gaye on 2008-05-18 05:51:17 GMT


What a wonderful speech, but he mentioned that we fought communism and won, but I have been told that most Jewish people vote the left wing which is socialism/communism, and was started by the Fabian society. The Jewish people along with the English, and the likes seem to be the only ones who have truthfully integrated into our Australian society where as the others gather in their little ever growing communities to form a race of their own within Australia, and I understand that as it is easier to talk with people of your own kind who understand you than it is to try to chat with someone of another language, thus although many will integrate the biggest portion will not... History has proven that people of a different culture and who have a totally different god cannot get along together for long especially once their numbers have grown.. Where as the Jewish people integrate fully and contribute to the Australian way often better than Australians, conversely to people from the same region who refuse to integrate and live off the welfare and drain us dry.

Posted by Gaye on 2008-05-18 05:44:35 GMT