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AIJAC welcomes Australia’s ’embrace’ of IHRA antisemitism definition

Oct 14, 2021 | AIJAC staff

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's address to the   Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, Remember – ReAct.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison's address to the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, Remember – ReAct.

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) has praised Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that the Australian “government”, “people” and “nation” will “embrace” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.

The definition, which was drafted by global antisemitism and Holocaust experts, will help Australians to better identify, educate and respond to antisemitism. It has been adopted by the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and many other countries. Australia is the second country in the Asia-Pacific to embrace the definition, following South Korea’s adoption earlier this year. The Prime Minister’s announcement follows Australia’s acceptance as a full member of IHRA in 2019.

The definition includes a brief, simple-to-understand description of what antisemitism is, as well as 11 contemporary examples that help to explain how antisemitism manifests itself in daily life.

“AIJAC welcomes this important announcement by Prime Minister Morrison,” AIJAC Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein said.

“It is deeply regrettable and unfortunate that Jewish people around the world, including in Australia, continue to face antisemitism.

“This year has been a particularly difficult year for Australian Jews with bigots and xenophobes using the coronavirus pandemic, the May conflict in Israel and Gaza and media reporting of public health breaches to spread hateful and dangerous anti-Jewish messages.”

“We need to use all tools available to teach Australians about the dangers of antisemitism and to stop hate speech before it turns into violence – as we have seen happen recently, especially in Europe and the United States.”

AIJAC’s National Chairman Mark Leibler added, “The Australian Government has shown a strong commitment to fighting antisemitism wherever it emerges. This has been demonstrated widely, from the halls of the United Nations – where Australia was party to an important statement against antisemitism this week – to the streets of Australia’s capital cities, where the Government is building or upgrading Holocaust education centres.”

“AIJAC thanks the Australian Government for its continued commitment to remembering the worst ever manifestation of antisemitism, the Holocaust. Prime Minister Morrison’s pledge to ‘grasp the torch of memory’ was deeply moving for the Australian Holocaust survivor community.”

“AIJAC also acknowledges the expression of support  for the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism from Labor leader Anthony Albanese. We are grateful that Australia’s support for the definition is above politics and embraced by both our major political parties.”

AIJAC’s Director of International and Community Affairs Jeremy Jones further explained that while there is limited detail available about how the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism will be applied in an Australian context, there are many examples internationally of best practice usage.

“Around the world, the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism is used by law enforcement to train police to understand when a crime may have an antisemitic motive, it is used by universities and schools to identify and intervene against antisemitism, and it can help social media companies to better moderate antisemitism on their platforms, among many other uses,” Jones said.

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