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Unis ‘must define anti-Semitism’, says ECAJ

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The nation’s top Jewish organisation has repeated a call for universities around the country to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism after the UNSW students representative council on Monday endorsed the wording.

It was one of the first elected student bodies in the country to adopt the definition, which has attracted some controversy. Supporters say the definition is anodyne and would help clearly define anti-Semitism while critics say it could be used to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel.

The definition reads: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed towards Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities”.

It also lists some examples, including: “Denying the Jewish ­people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour” and “Drawing comparisons of contemporary ­Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”.

Several Australian universities have adopted the definition, including Melbourne University and Monash University.

ANU chose not to and La Trobe adopted an amended version that took out the examples.

This came after the MPs – the Parliamentary Friends of IHRA – sent an open letter to vice-chancellors in November last year urging them to adopt the definition.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry welcomed the UNSW SRC’s move. “As an UNSW alumnus, I was proud to see the SRC reject the campaign of fear, disinformation and paranoia pushed by anti-Israel fanatics,” said co-CEO Alex Ryvchin.

“They tried to turn a modest request by Jewish students to adopt the standard definition of anti-Semitism as a non-binding educational tool into a pitched battle about Israel and they failed.

“We look forward to … every university following suit. The Jewish community knows what anti-Semitism is and it’s time for institutions to act with clarity and integrity and ignore the … bullying tactics of fringe groups and pro-Palestinian activists who know and care nothing about fighting anti-Semitism.”

Zac Morris, UNSW student and incoming Australian Union of Jewish Students vice-president, said the decision by the UNSW SRC “to consult, listen and stand with Jewish students is a significant step in creating a more inclusive, understanding university community for all students”.

Article link: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/unis-must-define-antisemitism-says-ecaj/news-story/901e13d518978e5789cd0cfd7b9e1b14
Article source: The Australian | Noah Yim | October 5, 2023

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

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