Being critical of Israel is not antisemitic, nor does this definition shut down debate or limit freedom of speech. It simply creates a framework about how to engage in free and robust debate without descending into bigotry. There are more working examples that people can and should read, and then you can make up your own mind.
Full motion and speech
Mr BURNS (Macnamara) (17:15): I move:
That this House:
(1) notes the 6.9 per cent increase in Australian antisemitic incidents logged in the Australian community in the reporting year ending in 2022, on top of the 35 per cent increase over the 2020-2021 reporting period, and recognises:
(a) the broad commitment to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), holocaust remembrance and combatting antisemitism;
(b) the embrace of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism by governments and institutions around the world;
(c) that governments and institutions have also embraced parallel definitions of islamophobia; and
(d) that the IHRA definition is about framing what constitutes antisemitism, and not about singling out one form of discrimination over another; and
(2) reaffirms its commitment to the IHRA working definition of antisemitism.
I thank the member for Wentworth for seconding this motion before the House—I also thank and acknowledge the member for Berowra, for his co-chairmanship, along with the member for Wentworth, on our parliamentary committee—on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
Earlier this year, by the beautiful shoreline in my community in Macnamara, we witnessed an ugly display of hate. A group of neo-Nazis in my electorate, in Elwood, gave a Nazi salute while posing for a photo. It was an awful contradiction, set against the welcoming, inclusive and quiet suburb of Elwood.
We know from our security agencies that more and more resources are now devoted to addressing the threats posed by far-right fringe groups. Unfortunately, antisemitism is on the rise again, occurring far too frequently and increasing in hostility. It’s why the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance came up with a definition of antisemitism. The University of Melbourne recently adopted this definition of antisemitism, and, alongside it, they adopted a definition of Islamophobia, another form of discrimination that has no place in our great country.
The IHRA definition is not legislation. It is simply a framework to help identify and combat this particular form of racism. Just as the British parliament formulated a definition of Islamophobia, IHRA created a definition of antisemitism. The IHRA definition of antisemitism was created by international holocaust and genocide scholars to academically understand what antisemitism is.
Unfortunately, the Greens are opposed to recognising the IHRA working definition, and they cite the contemporary examples that accompany the working definition as their justification. So what are the contemporary examples—that are, frankly, pretty straightforward—that the Greens are unwilling to support? Let’s go through them, so we can better understand exact what the Greens are opposing.
According to IHRA, one cannot call for aiding or justifying the killing or harming of Jews. That seems pretty straightforward—but, apparently, not for the Greens. You cannot make mendacious, dehumanising, demonising or stereotypical allegations about Jews, such as the power of Jews as a collective. It seems straightforward—apparently, not for the Greens. You cannot mention a myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal issues. It seems pretty straightforward. You cannot accuse the Jews, as a people, or Israel, as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust. Are the Greens really trying to argue that they want to engage in Holocaust denial? IHRA also states that you cannot accuse Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide than to the interests of their own nations. I am an Australian, and proudly so. This is a clear definition to better understand what antisemitism is.
Now, some people try and argue that a few of the working examples try to shut down criticism of Israel, but this is not true. Let me read clearly from the IHRA website:
Criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.
In other words, as clearly set out in the IHRA definition, you can be critical of Israel. Being critical of Israel is not antisemitic, nor does this definition shut down debate or limit freedom of speech. It simply creates a framework about how to engage in free and robust debate without descending into bigotry. There are more working examples that people can and should read, and then you can make up your own mind.
But let me say this. It sits extremely uncomfortably with me that the Greens presume to know more about the manifestations of antisemitism than the Jewish community themselves. By opposing the IHRA definition, what message does that send when one examines the examples of what the Greens are actually opposing? After all, it is unfathomable to imagine the Greens, or anyone else, imposing their own definition of racism on any other minority in this country, yet they do this to the Jewish community. I sincerely hope the Greens reconsider their position on this matter and I hope that all of us, across this parliament, work together to oppose all forms of bigotry and racism.