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The conflict between Israel and Hamas on October 7 has caused a rift within various sectors of Australian society, including the Labor Party, arts organizations, universities, and media companies. This has led to mass demonstrations, boycotts, and doxxing campaigns. Former Socceroo captain and human rights activist Foster has called for Football Australia to suspend Israel’s involvement in the world game due to their alleged breach of international law through the “mass slaughter of innocent Palestinians.” Peris, a staunch supporter of Israel, has publicly disavowed attempts to frame Israel as the colonial oppressor of indigenous Palestinians. She argues that importing overseas conflicts into Australia only serves to further polarize politics and amplify hate speech.

Foster believes that Israel’s actions in Gaza may constitute genocide, citing a ruling by the International Court of Justice. Peris, on the other hand, points out that the court did not find evidence of genocide but rather recognized the Palestinians’ right to protection from genocide. She also disagrees with Foster’s characterization of Israel as an apartheid regime, stating that Arab Israelis have full citizenship rights and political participation. However, these rights do not extend to Palestinians living in the occupied territories, according to human rights groups.

Peris advocates for dialogue over exclusion when addressing conflicts, arguing that it is essential for reconciliation. She believes that labeling anyone who believes in Israel’s right to exist as a “genocide supporter” or calling for the destruction of Israel is hate speech. Peris emphasizes the importance of constructive thought leadership and avoiding binary thinking when it comes to complex conflicts. She argues that sport, like politics, can be a powerful force for promoting reconciliation through dialogue rather than exclusion.

FIFA was set to vote on a motion to suspend Israel from the Palestinian Football Association, but the vote was deferred by FIFA president Gianni Infantino pending further legal advice. Foster believes that global sport should prevent crimes against humanity and promote social cohesion through equality and dignity for all communities. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry urged Football Australia not to support the motion, and FA would have abstained from voting, as they have maintained a neutral position in the Israel-Palestine conflict. The ICC prosecutor has requested arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Peris and Foster, co-chairs of the Australian Republican Movement, have been navigating contentious issues within the organization following their appointment last year. Peris recently resigned amidst stalled political support for a republic following a failed referendum. The ARM is considering moving up their annual general meeting to avoid a clash with King Charles’ planned visit to Australia. Despite political challenges, the conversation around important issues such as human rights, equality, and reconciliation continues to be a focal point in Australian society.

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