Antisemitism envoy undermines broader anti-racism work, ignores increasing anti-Palestinian racism, Islamophobia

Jul 9, 2024

The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) is dismayed that the Australian Government has appointed a taxpayer-funded special envoy on antisemitism.

The move is particularly concerning as it singles out antisemitism for special government investment and attention, while failing to address the increasingly frequent and severe forms of racism experienced by Palestinians, Muslims, First Nations people and other marginalised communities.

It also risks further entrenching the concerning pattern of antisemitism being conflated with criticism of the state of Israel or with support for Palestine, and fuelling tensions rather than fostering productive dialogue in community.

APAN is concerned that the appointment of an envoy focused solely on antisemitism undermines existing systemic approaches to anti-racism work currently being undertaken by the Australian Human Rights Commission’s new Race Discrimination Commissioner.

The Race Discrimination Commissioner has been mandated to support the development of the country’s first National Anti-Racism Framework and, through this, a National Anti-Racism Strategy that seeks to “dismantle racism in all its forms.”

APAN urges the government to redouble its efforts to support this broader anti-racism work, and to play a constructive and fair role in eliminating all forms of racism and bigotry.

Quotes attributed to APAN President Nasser Mashni:

This seems to be yet another example of the Australian Government pandering to pro-Israel groups, and pitting parts of the Jewish community against the Palestinian and Muslim communities – and against each other – rather than working to realise equal rights and justice for all.

Anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia have been on the rise across this continent over the past nine months, with people targeted by smear campaigns, discrimination in workplaces, educational settings and community, vandalism, threats of violence and even in one case, by having an improvised explosive device left on their property.

This proposal to fund an antisemitism envoy not only risks dividing communities, but also risks further conflating antisemitism with criticism of the Israeli state and its genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

We throw our support behind the Race Discrimination Commissioner, whose anti-racism work is aimed at promoting equality and justice for all racial, ethnic and religious groups in Australia, without bias or favour.