New South Wales becomes first Australian state to adopt IHRA’s definition of antisemitism

Move comes amid a 35% rise in antisemitic incidents in Australia this year. 

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News

New South Wales stands with the Jewish people “in the fight against antisemitism,” New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said, as the state became the first in Australia to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism.

Australia has seen a 35 percent increase in antisemitism this year, according to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ). The council noted in its annual report on antisemitic incidents in Australia, released last week, that the war between Israel and Gaza in May was a key driver in antisemitism down under, and called for Australia to adopt the IHRA’s definition.

In October, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the national government intends to adopt the definition, but on Tuesday Perrotet moved ahead.

To fight something, you need to be able to identify it. To be able to describe it, to name it,” Perrottet in a prerecorded statement, adding: “A definition is an essential and important tool. It’s a tool which empowers all those who fight this fight.”

The statement was made available in both Hebrew and English, Australian Jewish News reported.

“We hear the Jewish community, and today we stand with them in the fight against antisemitism,” Perrottet continued. “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.”

Referring to the recent Chanukah celebrations, Perrottet added that the the holiday “reminds us of the triumph of light over darkness” and were “also a reminder of the dangers of racism, bigotry and hate speech.”

Welcoming the 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.”

Zionist Federation of Australia President Jeremy Leibler also welcomed the news, saying “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.”

And the Australasian Union of Jewish Students, said the adoption of the definition “is significant for Jewish students across NSW,” adding “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.”