Amid a disturbing trend of antisemitism, the Greens are calling for a broad-ranging antiracism strategy, and are concerned about the government’s recent announcement that the Australian Government would move to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.
Antisemitism is a scourge and must be combatted vigorously. With a worrying local and global rise in far-right extremist politics and neo-Nazi activity, the urgency of this fight has rarely been greater.
However Kenneth Stern, one of the co-authors of the definition has since stated that the ‘weaponisation’ of the definition has been used to silence critics of the Israeli government, when it was originally designed as an educational tool. He stated that its adoption in the United States through an executive order by Donald Trump would “harm not only pro-Palestinian advocates, but also Jewish students and faculty, and the academy itself”.
The Greens share the concerns of human rights groups and Israeli and Jewish organisations that have warned against the consequences of codifying the definition, including the New Israel Fund, the Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS), the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network and the Progressive Israel Network. The capacity of this definition to be used to silence critics of the Israeli Government for its human rights abuses of the Palestinians is reason enough to be worried about this definition being adopted and enforced.
Given that the IHRA definition is controversial even within the Jewish community, we agree with Harold Zwier of AJDS that the energy that has gone into formulating competing definitions “would be better directed to actually fighting antisemitism and racism.”
To that end, the Greens have consistently called for an institutional and societal response to all forms of racism, including antisemitism, through the establishment and funding of a national anti-racism strategy and a coordinated plan to tackle far-right extremism in all its forms.
In our work challenging racism and antisemitism the Greens have either proposed or supported:
- Establishing formal parliamentary inquiries into the rise of the far-right in Australia, such as that proposed by Greens MLC Samantha Ratnam in Victoria, investigating the rise of far-right nationalists, and the risks their plans and actions pose to the state, particularly to Victoria’s multicultural communities;
- The banning of the public display of hate symbols, including those used by far-right extremists and neo-Nazis;
- Exposing and adopting a zero tolerance approach to the normalisation of far-right ideologies and hate speech in mainstream politics and media.
We strongly urge the government to adopt and fund such activities to ensure that antisemitism - and all forms of racism - can be challenged and mitigated.