Hatred in the spotlight
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Hatred in the spotlight

THE issue of hatred towards Jews and Israel was very much in the public spotlight this week on multiple fronts.

The University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council (SRC), seemingly taking its cue from its counterpart at the University of Melbourne last month, has issued “From the River to the Sea”.

The June 1 motion describes Israel as an apartheid state and claims that opposition to Israel is not antisemitic, undercutting a basic principle of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.

It is the third anti-Israel motion this year and the second in two months from the USYD SRC, which has been reluctant to engage with the Australasian Union of Jewish Students.

The University of Melbourne Students’ Union has since rescinded its motion and we earnestly hope the University of Sydney SRC will do the same.

More to the point, this motion again highlights the need for universities around Australia to adopt the IHRA definition without delay.

Meanwhile, antisemitism at a Melbourne school – and how teaching staff dealt with it – is the focus of a Federal Court case underway against Brighton Secondary College and the State of Victoria.

The court this week heard evidence from Jewish ex-students, alleging persistent antisemitic bullying at the school, widespread daubing of swastikas, and the failure of staff to exert disciplinary measures.

However, we are encouraged that the Victorian government’s ban on swastikas, announced last month, has been brought forward from 12 to six months.

We note the importance of a preliminary education campaign for communities in which the ancient swastika is a cultural symbol.

However, we believe the sooner the new law is brought in, the more harm can be averted in the lives of those for whom the Nazi swastika is a symbol of deadly hatred, and a reminder of the Holocaust.

We also look forward to expected legislation to ban the Nazi swastika being introduced into the NSW Parliament and laud the pledge of Tasmania’s government to follow suit, after Queensland also announced its intention to ban these hateful symbols late last month.

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