Former Prime Minister John Howard slams Labor’s ‘staggering’ failure amid Israel-Gaza crisis

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Former Prime Minister John Howard has weighed in on Australia’s response to the crisis unfolding in Gaza, which has now raged for six brutal months following the devastating October 7 massacre.

The 84-year-old, who served as Australia’s 25th PM, explained his position on the upcoming US election and the current state of global politics, including Australia’s role in what is shaping to be one of the most turbulent decades in recent memory.

He took particular aim at Foreign Minister Penny Wong and her approach to the war in Gaza. Earlier this week, Senator Wong advocated for a formally-recognised Palestinian state in the Middle East, claiming it was “the only hope to break the endless cycle of violence”.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton took the opportunity to take a swipe at Labor, accusing Senator Wong of “blaming Israel for a failure of a two-state solution,” describing her comments as “utterly illogical, ill-timed and inappropriate”.

But Howard went a step further, telling Sky News’ Erin Molan that there wasn’t enough respect being shown for the global issue of anti-Semitism from the Labor Party, drawing parallels between Hamas’ October 7 atrocities and the Nazis in the 20th century.

“I think this government, and Penny Wong in particular, has demonstrably failed to react in the right way to the attack on Israel on the seventh of October last year, there were more Jews killed in that attack than in any incident since the Holocaust,” Howard told Erin.

“I am just staggered that the government didn’t from the get-go say ‘whatever differences we have, we must never, ever sound as though we don’t care about the re emergence of anti-Semitism’.

“What was done to the Jewish people by the Nazis are the most monstrous act of inhumanity in the whole of recorded history. And I just don’t think the government has been tough enough and firm enough and unambiguous enough.”

Howard slammed the scenes witnessed outside the Sydney Opera House after Israel launched its devastating retaliatory attack on Gaza following the Hamas attacks. Pro-Palestine protesters were filmed chanting anti-Jewish sentiments in Sydney, sparking a firestorm of backlash from all corners of Australia.

“I think what happened outside the Opera house after the seventh of October brought shame on our country,” he said.

“I don’t think it would have happened if, from the very beginning a lead had been given. People react to leads, and it’s the role of a prime minister.

“It’s the role of a government to give a lead. And if from the very beginning it had been clearly stated as the policy of the Australian government that no matter what our other differences are, one thing we will not tolerate is the re emergence of any semblance of anti Semitism.”

Howard continued, criticising the Arab world for never recognising Israel’s right to exist following its establishment in 1948 after enduring persecution across Europe.

“As for having a Palestinian state as well as the state of Israel, the Arab world has never accepted Israel’s right to exist,” Howard said.

“Way back in 1947 when the first president of the United Nations was Doctor Evert, who was a Labour Party leader, uh, Israel was created with the sanction, the authority of the United Nations. And yet through the years, various attempts had been made to have a two state solution.

“I mean, of course, the Palestinian people are entitled to their legitimate aspirations. But I have yet to see clear evidence that the Arab world, the Palestinians and the Arab world in general will accept Israel’s right to exist behind secure, defensible, internationally respected boundaries. And until that happens, it’s just feeding aggression and terrorism to pretend otherwise.”

As politicians deliberate over the rights and wrongs of the tragic crisis, civilians continue to perish in drone strikes and hostages remain captive on both sides.

Some 250 hostages were seized by Palestinian militants during the October 7 attack, of whom 129 are still being held. The military says 34 of them are dead.

Hamas’ initial attack left 1,170 people dead, mostly civilians.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 33,545 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

As for the US election, Howard, who built a career as a staunch conservative throughout the 20th century, admitted there was no way he could vote for Donald Trump if he were an American.

He said the character of the former US President was impossible to overlook, citing his explosive reaction to the 2020 election results which saw him ousted from the White House. The controversy has permeated until today and remains a sticking point for Trump’s most ardent supporters as the clock ticks down towards the polls in November.

“I’m afraid I couldn’t vote for Trump if I were an American,” Howard said.

“He didn’t leave the field when the umpire’s finger went up. And if you claim to be a believer in democracy, you have to accept the verdict of the people.

“You don’t like it. I didn’t like losing the election to Kevin Rudd, and I’m quite sure Paul Keating didn’t like losing the election to me, but we accepted it. I accepted it, you just have to.”