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December 19, 2021 6:11 pm
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New South Wales Becomes First Australian State To Adopt IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Premier New South Wales announcing his state’s becoming the first in Australia to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism. Photo Credit: YouTube

New South Wales became the first Australian state to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism, Premier Dominic Perrottet of the Liberal Party announced this week.

“To fight something, you need to be able to identify it. To be able to describe it, to name it,” Perrottet said Tuesday in a prerecorded statement that was also made available in Hebrew, according to a local report. “A definition is an essential and important tool. It’s a tool which empowers all those who fight this fight.”

“We hear the Jewish community, and today we stand with them in the fight against antisemitism. This definition will make a difference. It will help people call out antisemitism where ever it hides; on social media, on educational campuses, on the streets of New South Wales.”

Perrottet also said that this year’s Hanukkah festivities “reminds us of the triumph of light over darkness” and “also a reminder of the dangers of racism, bigotry and hate speech.”

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An annual report published Wednesday by the the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) reported a 35 percent increase in antisemitic incidents in Australia, thanks in part to the May conflict between Israel and Hamas and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ECAJ called for greater adoption of the IHRA definition, which says, “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.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in October that the national government would adopt the tool.

Welcoming this week’s New South Wales announcement, New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies (NSWJBD) CEO Darren Bark said, “Combatting antisemitism is not just the responsibility of the Jewish community, it takes leadership from every public figure, which is why we are so grateful to the Premier and the NSW Government for leading the way among state governments.”

The Australasian Union of Jewish Students, founded in 1948 at the University of Sydney, also praised the news.

“The NSW’s government adoption of the IHRA definition is significant for Jewish students across NSW,” said the group, which campaigned for IHRA’s adoption in the southeastern state. “Every tool that is available to stamp out the scourge of hate speech and racism should be used before speech manifests into something more dangerous.”

The move was also heralded by Zionist Federation of Australia President Jeremy Leibler, who said, “Antisemitism has no place in Australia, and, as Premier Perrottet says, in order to fight it, we have to define it. We thank the NSW Government for this stand and encourage other Australian state governments to do the same.”

Responding to Perrottet’s announcement, a spokesman representing the government of Victoria, which, according to the Australian Jewish News, will likely decide whether to adopt IHRA in January 2022, said that it “stands prepared to join with our proud and strong Jewish community to achieve a Victoria that is free from the scourge of antisemitism.”

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