The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network is disturbed at the lack of transparency and accountability universities are taking when adopting the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism.
Despite their claims, universities that adopted the definition have not consulted with community groups or stakeholders, with some going so far as to purposefully mislead organisations of their true intentions.
“We expect the highest of standards from our universities, but the way in which senior leadership in some of these institutions have conducted themselves is abhorrent,” APAN President Nasser Mashni said.
“The way these institutions have treated APAN and the broader Palestinian community during this process shows the level of contempt they have for us.
“Israel commits atrocities daily against Palestinians, and for 75 years has maintained an apartheid system over us. As Palestinians, we have every right to single Israel out for criticism, and we would hope our universities would support us in this rather than implementing policies to silence us.
“Some universities have engaged with us on this issue, but others have either refused to acknowledge our correspondence, or misled us for months about their intentions to adopt the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism.”
The University of Melbourne became the most recent university in Australia to adopt the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism and its working examples last month, following others such as Macquarie University, and University of Wollongong which both secretly implemented it in 2022.
Despite active requests from APAN and the community, neither university provided opportunities for consultation, with the University of Melbourne purposefully misleading groups over an eight-month period.
Australian critics of the Definition have pointed to examples overseas where academics and institutions received threats of funding withdrawal, as well as indicating one of the Definition’s key drafters opposes its adoption due to it being “weaponized” to “restrict academic freedom and punish political speech”.
In its own review, the University College London found “The only purpose of introducing the IHRA working definition into internal codes of conduct would be to make criticism of the state of Israel a disciplinary offence… But such a step would breach universities’ legal obligations to freedom of expression, core to chartered academic freedoms to teach and research – and for students to learn”.
APAN will continue its attempts to consult with Australian universities in good faith to address genuine issues of racism, including antisemitism, on campuses.
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Jarred – [email protected] – 0434 869 088