Australia endorses IHRA definition of antisemitism

Photo by: Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency/via REUTERS

Australia will formally endorse the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday at the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.

Australia will become the 30th country to formally endorse or adopt the IHRA definition, along with the European Union and numerous local governments, corporations, institutions and organizations.

"Antisemitism has no place in Australia – it has no place anywhere in the world," Morrison told the forum in a pre-recorded message. "And we must work together, resolutely and as a global community, to reject any word or any act that supports antisemitism towards individuals, towards communities or religious facilities," the prime minister added.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven also spoke at the Malmö forum, calling for "concrete measures" to combat antisemitism and advance Holocaust remembrance. 

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) praised Morrison's decision to adopt the definition, which will "help Australians to better identify, educate and respond to antisemitism."

The new Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attends a news conference in Canberra, Australia August 24, 2018 (credit: REUTERS/DAVID GRAY/FILE PHOTO)

"This year has been a particularly difficult year for Australian Jews with bigots and xenophobes... spreading hateful and dangerous anti-Jewish messages," said the council's executive director Dr. Colin Rubenstein. "AIJAC welcomes this important announcement by Prime Minister Morrison," he said.

"The Australian government has shown a strong commitment to fighting antisemitism wherever it emerges," added AIJAC national chairman Mark Leibler. "This has been demonstrated widely, from the halls of the UN, where Australia was party to an important statement against antisemitism this week, to the streets of Australia’s capital cities, where the government is building or upgrading Holocaust education centers."

The definition, laid out by the IHRA in 2015, has been criticized for "weaponizing" the term to silence criticism against the State of Israel. It is used by law enforcement in adopting nations to train police for antisemitic attacks and by universities and schools around the world to identify and intervene against antisemitism, according to AIJAC.

It was most recently adopted by the Madrid Assembly, which also called on the national parliament to pass legislation that would deny public funding to organizations that promote antisemitic hatred as defined by the alliance.

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