By Caitlin Cassidy
A coalition of pro-Palestine community groups has urged universities to follow suit with the Australian National University in publicly rejecting a controversial definition of antisemitism.
In a statement yesterday, an ANU spokesperson said it looked closely at the definition and felt it had “sufficient protections and measures in place to help prevent and respond to any form of discrimination within its existing policies and procedures”.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition has been critiqued as an “outright attack on academic freedom” among Palestinian and Arab scholars who argue its definition of antisemitism, which includes “targeting the state of Israel”, could be used to shut down legitimate criticism of Israel.
The Australian National Imams Council, Islamic Council of Victoria, Palestinian Christians in Australia and the Australian Palestine Advocacy Network released a joint statement praising the ANU on its decision.
It came after the adoption of the statement by the University of Melbourne, Monash University, the University of Wollongong, Macquarie University and University of the Sunshine Coast after lobbying from a coalition of MPs.
APAN president Nasser Mashni said:
“We welcome ANU’s responsible decision to protect the rights and freedoms of academics and students by choosing not to take on this politicised and discredited definition of antisemitism. It’s important that antisemitism and other forms of racism are addressed, and we already have effective measures in place.”
ICV president Adel Salman said universities had “sidestepped community consultation” on concerns raised among the Palestinian community towards the adoption of the statement.
The Australasian Union of Jewish Students and Zionist Federation of Australia praised the University of Melbourne to be the first institution to publicly adopt the definition.