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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:
Article source: The Australian | Noah Yim | October 5, 2023

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Same As It Ever Was With Anti-Israel Uni Students

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In 1974 and 1975, the radical left Australian Union of Students presented extreme anti-Israel motions ultimately defeated by a vote of university students.

The AUS attempted to cloak its hardline agenda to destroy the state of Israel via the disingenuous use of moderate terms such as secular and democratic, falsely implying a commitment to equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.

Fifty years later, the National Tertiary Education Union has just passed an anti-Israeli motion replete with demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel and whose terms evoked classical tropes of hostility towards the Jewish people.

When the Melbourne University Student Union passed a boycott Israel motion earlier this year, it stated it was against anti-Semitism.

The NTEU motion, stating it “opposes anti-Semitism and all prejudice in the strongest terms”, actually rejected this proposition by opposing the IHRA Working Definition of anti-Semitism definition that vehement demonisation of Israel which discriminates against and threatens Jewish people is a form of anti-Semitism.

Instead, the motion claimed the IHRA definition would “chill free speech, restrict academic freedom and restrict peaceful political expression”.

Why is the NTEU’s virulence so over the top that any casual reader would be aghast – not to mention the threat it poses to Jewish academics and students on campus who voice any form of pro-Israel sentiment.

In Europe and some American campuses today, Jewish students or academics publicly wearing or displaying the symbol of the Star of David are physically attacked because this symbol also appears on the national flag of the State of Israel.

It seems people, and not just ideas, must be boycotted.

A fanatical form of anti-Zionist fundamentalism is a blind spot among the hard left because Israel-Palestine narrative is about the powerful (read: Jewish people) getting their comeuppance.

Israel, as a supposedly Western nation (no matter that half its Jewish population are Arab, North African and Persian Jews forced to leave their homelands following the 1948 war of independence), has been turned into an exclusivist, racist, colonialist, supremacist entity oppressing and occupying innocents.

It must be singled out as a particular evil for all people to reject.

The staggering aspect of the NTEU’s motion is that the majority of tertiary unionists have stayed silent in the face of this hard-left hijack, or been cowed into submission.

Fifty years ago many of us, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, said AUS did not speak for us. We went campus to campus nationally making the case against anti-Israel motions.

We won nine out of 10 student votes through rational debate.

Yet it seems the NTEU has imposed an intellectual iron curtain on its members, prejudging a complex and challenging conflict – and applying double standards to Israel alone.

That, in anyone’s definition, is cowardly.

Adam Slonim is co-convener of the Australia Israel Labor Dialogue

Article link:
Article source: The Daily Telegraph | Adam Slonim | 25.10.22

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