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March 24, 2022 4:22 pm
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Australian Jews Applaud NSW Parliament for Adopting IHRA Definition of Antisemitism

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

New South Wales Parliament in Sydney, Australia. Photo: J Bar/Wikimedia Commons.

The New South Wales (NSW) Parliament’s Legislative Council adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism on Wednesday night, drawing applause from Jewish groups.

The motion was brought to the floor by Christian Democratic Party member Fred Nile, several months after NSW became the first Australian state to adopt the IHRA definition in December.

Darren Bark, head of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (NSW JBD), welcomed the “historic decision.”

“The IHRA definition provides clear examples of antisemitism to educate and guide community action against it, and as [NSW] Premier Dominic Perrottet said last year, to fight something you need to be able to identify it,” he told The Australian Jewish News.

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The news was also commended by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), which called on other governments and organizations to use the definition in their training programs and policies.

The group also responded to several parliament members who criticized the IHRA definition for its potential to affect Palestinian advocacy, including Green Party member Abigail Boyd who said it “is liable to suppress legitimate criticism of human rights abuses against Palestinians by defaming critics of Israel as antisemitic.”

While the IHRA definition includes examples of contemporary antisemitism that target Israel as a Jewish collective, it also notes that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

The AIJAC expressed regret “that there are still those, even in Parliament, who believe they know better than the group of scholars and academics from around the world who dedicated years to developing a consensus working definition of antisemitism.”

A study released earlier this month found that more than 800 organizations have adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism, including 19 US states, 204 local governing bodies in the United Kingdom, and 314 educational institutions, 236 of which are in the UK. In 2021, it was endorsed by at least 200 governmental and non governmental institutions.

The study found that the definition has attained “mainstream consensus” and is likeliest to be embraced by local organizations when national governments take the lead.

The IHRA definition “is increasingly a key pillar in government strategies in the struggle against all forms of contemporary antisemitism,” it shared. “The growing pace of adoptions across all sectors and layers of society is expected to continue in the years ahead.”

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