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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

The death of Australian Zomi Frankcom and other World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza in an Israeli strike has led to yet more intense and critical scrutiny over how Israel is prosecuting the war against Hamas.

This week Foreign Minister Penny Wong has floated the possibility of recognition of a Palestinian state ahead of a two-state solution. Her comments were condemned by Peter Dutton as “irreparably” damaging Australia’s relations with Israel.

To discuss the government’s position on this and the Middle East crisis, we’re joined by Labor MP Josh Burns, who represents the inner Melbourne seat of Macnamara, which has a significant Jewish community.

Josh Burns’ family history goes back to the early post-world war two days of Israel, when his grandfather settled there.

There was an incident that happened where there was some conflict between Israelis and local Palestinians, and it was really distressing to my grandfather. And he hated it. He hated the fact that there was conflict around him, he’d just lived through world war two, and he didn’t want to raise his family in a place where there was conflict. And he said he made one of the hardest decisions of his life to leave Israel and to go and start a new life in another country.

Burns reiterates his support for a two-state solution.

I desperately want to see a peace agreement signed between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I really, really went to see that in my lifetime; it will be a magnificent day for humanity where we can we can properly see this conflict that has been devastating for decades end.

As a person who is a part of the Jewish community, Burns explains why the recent months have been profoundly difficult.

I think this has been probably the most difficult period that I can think of in my lifetime to be a Jewish person in Australia. And I think that the Jewish community feels under immense pressure. It saddens me greatly that this has been such a difficult time for the Jewish community in Australia.

He stresses the importance of respectful communication with all sides of the issue, on which Muslim ministers Ed Husic and Anne Aly have been outspoken in bringing the intense Palestinian suffering to the fore.

I’ve been friends with Ed Husic for a long time, and Anne Aly is a dear friend of mine and Fatima Payman, the three Islamic members of our caucus I speak to regularly, and I admire them all very much. And I think it’s very important that we have a space where we can have these respectful dialogues and disagreement, which is okay.

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

ref. Politics with Michelle Grattan: Josh Burns on being a Jewish MP during a terrible conflict –