ZFA statement welcoming Monash University’s adoption of the IHRA defintion

Official Statements

The Zionist Federation of Australia welcomes Monash University’s adoption of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.

ZFA President Jeremy Leibler said, “This important milestone will play an important role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Jewish students on campus. We thank Professor Gardner and the Monash leadership for listening to the concerns of Jewish students and the community leadership, and for acting to help stem the rising tide of antisemitism on campuses. We call on other universities to follow their lead.”

Mr Leibler continued, “The IHRA working definition is widely accepted as the most comprehensive and accurate definition of antisemitism. It recognises that antisemitism can take many forms, including traditional forms such as hate speech and violence, as well as more subtle and insidious forms such as delegitimisation, demonisation and double standards in relation to Israel. The Zionist Federation looks forward to working with Monash University to ensure that the IHRA working definition is implemented effectively and that the university remains a safe and inclusive place for all of its students and staff”.

“This decision by another Group of Eight university, following Melbourne University’s adoption of the definition last month, is a rebuke to those carrying out a shameful and dishonest campaign against widespread adoption of the definition”, said Mr Leibler.

In 2021, the Australian Government adopted the IHRA working definition, in a bipartisan decision. Since then, the majority of Australian states—including Victoria—have adopted or endorsed the definition. The Working Definition specifies that criticism of Israel is not in and of itself antisemitic, but that denying to Jews the right to self-determination is.

Originally developed as a European Union educational tool, the Working Definition of Antisemitism was adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in 2016. Since then, dozens of countries, businesses and educational institutions have adopted or otherwise embraced the Working Definition as the best description of modern antisemitism. IHRA is an international state-level organisation of which Australia is a member.

Antisemitism is increasing in Australia and around the world. Jewish students are facing increased levels of verbal and physical intimidation on campus, including death threats. Much of this discrimination is justified by its perpetrators as anti-Israel activism, which is why the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism is so important—because it acts as a tool for well-intentioned people to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitic discrimination.

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