La Trobe offers to meet ZFA over IHRA furore

There are concerns over La Trobe University's only partial adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.

La Trobe University.
La Trobe University.

La Trobe University is offering to meet with the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) amidst serious concerns over its only partial adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.

The ZFA said it will be raising the issue with the Victorian education minister and is inviting the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) to the meeting with the university.

It wants to discuss the recent survey of student experiences of antisemitism on campus and La Trobe’s decision to only partially adopt the IHRA definition.

The recent ZFA-AUJS survey on campus antisemitism revealed that 73 per cent of La Trobe respondents have hidden their Jewish identity whilst on campus, well above the national average.

ZFA president Jeremy Leibler said, “Clearly, antisemitism is a problem at La Trobe University. We fear that La Trobe’s actions will make things worse.”

The university’s decision to consult with the left-wing Jewish groups the Australian Jewish Democratic Society, Jewish Voices for Justice and Peace (NSW) and Partners for Peace has also come under fire.

Leibler described them as three small, fringe groups whose views do not reflect the overwhelming majority of the Jewish community, its representative organisations or AUJS. He added that La Trobe’s decision to use the guidelines in the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism has numerous problems, not least its contention that “opposing Zionism as a form of nationalism” is not antisemitic.

“Zionism is the movement for Jewish self-determination. Denying Jews such a right is antisemitic,” he said.

While La Trobe said it did consult with AUJS and the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), AIJAC executive director Colin Rubenstein said the consultation consisted of “receiving an unsolicited letter from AIJAC, and sending a form letter back, which speaks volumes for how seriously it took Jewish community ‘consultation’ on this important matter”.

“Aside from AIJAC and AUJS, the other three groups named are far-left Jewish fringe groups that represent the views of a tiny minority of the Jewish community, and, in fact, the university was approached by a single person representing all three groups,” he said.

“The sad result is that the views of our community, including those most directly affected by the antisemitism on campus – the students themselves – have been all but ignored, and La Trobe has adopted a definition that, by design, specifically condones certain types of antisemitism acknowledged as such by the vast majority of Jews worldwide.”

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