National Security

Concerns over visas

April 12, 2024

Friday 12 April 2024
Bruce Hill
Australian Jewish News

 THE granting of Australian visas to Palestinians fleeing Gaza has attracted  both concern and support.
 Some visas were granted and then cancelled last month - including for a  number of Palestinians who were already on a plane headed for Australia - and  then reinstated.
 Shadow Home Affairs Minister James Paterson said the rushed process for  granting the visas is a major source of concern.
 "Department of Home Affairs officials admitted in Senate estimates last  month that on average these visas were granted in 24 hours, and in some  instances . as little as one hour. It is very difficult to understand how you  could do an adequate identity or security check on a visa applicant from a  war zone run by a terrorist organisation so quickly," he said.
 Robert Gregory, CEO of the right-wing Australian Jewish Association,  expressed concern that the government is risking national security by rushing  the visas through without taking the necessary security checks.
 "With polling showing that the overwhelming majority of Gazans support  the horrific atrocities of October 7, Australia is importing a ticking time  bomb.
 Statistically, we are bringing in many supporters of terrorism and  potentially some members of proscribed terrorist groups," he said.
 But Rabbi Ralph Genende, the Interfaith and Community Liasion for the  Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, said the Jewish community  needs to temper the fear that they could be Hamas supporters with compassion  for the suffering of Palestinians who are caught up in the war.
 "As long as our Australian authorities are vigilant in their background  checks to ensure those coming are not Hamas members, we should not have a  knee-jerk reaction. Jewish tradition is about compassion for human  suffering," Genende said.
 Michael Chaitow, executive director of the left-leaning New Israel Fund said  Gazans should be allowed to find safe haven if the security checks have been  done.
 "There is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and there is a need to respond  to the critical situation on the ground," he said.

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