The Zionist Federation of Australia is extremely concerned by La Trobe University’s announcement of its ‘adoption’ of only part of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, and its adoption of the highly problematic ‘Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism’.
ZFA President Jeremy Leibler said, “The recent ZFA-AUJS survey on campus antisemitism revealed that 73 per cent of La Trobe respondents have hidden their Jewish identity whilst on campus. This is well above the already-shocking national average. Clearly, antisemitism is a problem at La Trobe University. We fear that La Trobe’s actions will make things worse.”
La Trobe University began this process after being approached by three small, fringe groups whose views do not reflect the overwhelming majority of the Jewish community, its representative organisations or the elected Jewish student body, AUJS. La Trobe University did not consult with the representative organisations and completely disregarded AUJS’s submission.
“One wonders if the university would have followed the suggestions of fringe groups from any other minority whose views are so at odds with that minority’s representative organisations,” asked Mr Leibler.
Mr Leibler said, “The Jerusalem Declaration was drafted solely and purposefully to undermine the IHRA definition. It has numerous problems, not least its contention that ‘opposing Zionism as a form of nationalism’ is not antisemitic. Zionism is the movement for Jewish self-determination. Denying Jews such a right is antisemitic.”
“Adopting a definition of antisemitism that is completely rejected by the community that is affected by antisemitism is inappropriate”, said Mr Leibler.
The ZFA wrote to La Trobe University about the recent survey of student experiences of antisemitism on campus and the ZFA’s serious concerns with the recent La Trobe University announcement. The ZFA will also be raising this issue with the Victorian education minister.
La Trobe University has now offered to meet with the ZFA. The ZFA has invited AUJS to attend the meeting.