NSW first state to adopt the IHRA definition

March 24, 2022 by Henry Benjamin
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The NSW parliament has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.

Rev Fred Nile

The federal government adopted the definition last year but NSW is the only state government to have done so.

Many members of the House endorsed the motion raised by Christian Democrat Reverend Fred Nile.

Shayne Mallard [Liberal]said: “The New South Wales Government has worked closely with the Jewish community, the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies and other community leaders and stands with them in the fight against antisemitism. By adopting this definition—and I encourage members to read the definition in full—we are now able to clearly identify and call out antisemitism wherever it hides on the street and on social media. New South Wales set an example for the rest of the world as a peaceful and harmonious multicultural society. I am proud of our Government’s commitment to stamp out extremists who are directly threatening our social cohesion and our community harmony. We are working closely with communities to enable them to be better connected to support each other in times of need and to provide more support for those who are vulnerable to negative influences and who are most at risk. This is how we build an even stronger society to counter extremism and hate.”

Daniel Mookey [Labor] reiterated the definition in saying “This definition reads: ‘Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.’

Labor will continue to work to end all forms of racial and religious discrimination. Labor again calls, and will continue to call, on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict to refrain from any actions that hamper peaceful outcomes for both the Israeli and Palestinian people. Equally, support for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism does not prevent parliamentarians from expressing concerns about the actions of various Israeli governments when necessary. Labor has long supported and continues to support a two-State solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Labor supports Israel’s right to exist within secure and recognised boundaries, and we support the creation of a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Walt Secord [Labor]told parliament: “Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese was the first major political leader in Australia to commit to the definition. In a meeting on the same day he also condemned antisemitism, boycotts of Israel, the apartheid slur, and reiterated support for a two-State solution. In the spirit of bipartisanship, I also acknowledge that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a similar statement on 14 October 2021. Australia became the thirty-third nation to adopt the definition and the second country in the region, after South Korea. I also note that Premier Dominic Perrottet and Opposition leader Chris Minns have also endorsed the definition.

The definition has been accepted by the European Parliament, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and many other countries. Even at the municipal level, The Greens, Labor and Liberals at Waverley council have endorsed the definition. Labor endorsed the IHRA definition at its October conference. Only a tiny fringe are advocating an alternative definition, and they are being manipulated by a disingenuous group of anti‑Israel activists and people on the far left and far right of politics. In September 2018 even the British Labour Party adopted the IHRA definition, and that was under disgraced British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.”

Scott Farlow [Liberal] outlined further parts of the definition when telling Parliament: “In part, it states: ‘accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a State, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust and accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations …’

These are examples of what it defines as being antisemitism, but there is nothing about the criticism of the Israeli government or its practices, which all of us in a democratic society can do of our nation or of other nations. Israel is the reigning democracy of the Middle East. It took them four times to come up with a government over the past year. The third-largest party is the Arab List. That government represents a very pluralist society. They are not just Jewish people. They are people who are Muslim or Christian, people who have no faith at all or people who have a Druze background. It is a very tolerant society. When it comes to the IHRA definition of antisemitism, as the Hon. Walt Secord noted, that was adopted by the Prime Minister on October 14.”

But Anthony D’Adam [Labor]told the House that Israel has made it unsafe for Jews across the world. He said: “There is a core problem with not so much the actual definition but with the contemporary examples about the way it deals with the State of Israel. First of all, the definition implies that Israel is a proxy for Jewish people, and it is not. There are many Jewish people who do not support the State of Israel.

I accept that Israel was created out of an aspiration for Jewish people to be safe. That is fair enough after the horrors of the Holocaust. Absolutely. But Jewish people should be safe everywhere in the world. They should be safe from bigotry everywhere, not just through the device of Israel. In fact, I would argue that Israel has made Jewish people more unsafe. The core problem that we have to face in terms of combatting the politics that underpin the motion is that the agenda to close down debate around Israel is problematic. We should be careful about signing up to that. I accept that the motion will pass, and I will be voting in favour of it because that is the position adopted by the Labor Party. But I have serious reservations about the underlying agenda of the motion.”

David Shoebridge [Greens] opposed the motion. He said: “We should be worried about all attempts to conflate legitimate criticisms of the actions of the State of Israel with antisemitism. It is not un-Australian for First Nations people to speak out about the racist foundations of the colonial State, Invasion Day or the ongoing racism in the police force. Likewise, it is not antisemitic for Palestinian people to criticise the divisive and racist actions of the Israeli State. We support the fight against antisemitism and this motion does not assist in that struggle. We support clear statements opposing antisemitism, such as the Jerusalem Declaration, but we also support the struggle against anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian attitudes.”

Mark Latham [One Nation] commented: “One Nation supports the motion of Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile. It is self-apparent that anyone dedicated to smashing the State of Israel is antisemitic because the State of Israel has every right to exist after the horrors coming out of the ashes of the Holocaust. Any fair-minded person would be sympathetic to the cause of the Jewish people and the existence of Israel. It beggars belief that people otherwise on the left of politics, saying they believe in tolerance and compassion, would be so cold-hearted and harsh on Israel to say, “Smash that State. We are supporting Hamas. We are supporting Hezbollah. We are supporting the worst elements in the Middle East to get rid of Israel.” Israel is a beautiful country but it is not perfect. It makes errors and it is open to criticism. But to draw an equivalence between the old apartheid regime in South Africa and Israel is so abhorrent, wrong and draconian in its attitude. Those things are not true and there is no equivalence between the apartheid regime and Israel. I visited Israel and to say it is a nation of apartheid is fundamentally untrue.”

Shaoquett Moselmane [Labor]declared: “A report published by Oxford University in 2021 found that what is supposedly intended to protect Jews against antisemitism was twisted to protect the State of Israel against valid criticism. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism is a political statement. The issue of substance are the examples attached to the so-called “definition”, which are unacceptable. The so-called definition conflates criticism of Israel—an apartheid State and settler-colonial State—as being antisemitic. That is wrong. The definition is rejected by many Jews and many decent people around the world. If members google the IHRA definition, they will find many documents criticising it.

It is a political tool being used to deflect criticism of Israel as an apartheid State, which for the past 70 years has subjugated, oppressed and dehumanised the Palestinian people.

Also speaking were Natalie Ward, Taylor Martin and Abigal Boyd.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark commented, “The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies commends the NSW Legislative Council for endorsing and adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism on Wednesday night.

Darren Bark

This is a historic decision that follows the NSW government’s announcement in December that it will also embrace the definition.

The IHRA definition provides clear examples of antisemitism to educate and guide community action against it, and as Premier Dominic Perrottet said last year, to fight something, you need to be able to identify it. A definition is an essential tool to do just that.

We commend and thank each and every MP who spoke in support of the motion, and Reverend Fred Nile MLC for bringing it forward.

With antisemitism on the rise around the world, and the fact NSW experienced the highest reported number of antisemitic incidents in Australia last year, the NSW Parliament’s adoption of the IHRA definition is more important now than ever.

Noting the debate in the Legislative Council, the JBD condemns the dangerous and misguided comments from Deputy Opposition Whip Anthony D’Adam who claimed that ‘Israel has made Jewish people more unsafe’.

Mr D’Adam’s comments, which take a page out of former UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-Israel playbook, are incredibly ignorant, offensive and dissociated from the truth.

Mr D’Adam is so fundamentally wrong and insulting with his remarks we demand that they be withdrawn.”

Israel was founded from the ashes of the Holocaust as a homeland for Jews who faced two millennia of persecution. To say that Israel makes Jews more unsafe is to ignore and slight the history of persecution that Jews have faced and the murder of six million Jews in Europe – who, if Israel had existed, would likely have lived.

Dr Colin Rubenstein executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council said: “AIJAC commends the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies for their persistent, effective efforts in achieving this welcome outcome.

He added: “With this adoption, AIJAC urges government and non-government institutions and organisations in NSW to consider how they can implement this definition in their training, processes or policies to combat antisemitism.”

“AIJAC expresses its appreciation to those NSW MPs – including Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile MLC who introduced the motion – who have committed to fight antisemitism in NSW. Eliminating discrimination and bigotry should be something we all aspire to.”



One Response to “NSW first state to adopt the IHRA definition”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    Let’s hope the fact Fred Nile’s Democratic Party has been taken of the federal register has no effect on the motion ……..

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