Monash University in Melbourne has become the latest tertiary education institution in Australia to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.
The AJN understands staff were informed of the decision on Tuesday. The university has also adopted a definition of Islamophobia as part of a new anti-racism policy.
Monash University follows the University of Melbourne, Macquarie University, Sunshine Coast University and the University of Wollongong in adopting the definition.
“We are delighted that another major university has now formally adopted the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism,” Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim said.
“There is now a clear momentum in favour of adoption. We understand that the peak body representing Australian universities, Universities Australia, has been asked to place the adoption of the IHRA working definition on the agenda of its plenary body, and we remain hopeful that this will ultimately lead to a positive recommended response for all Australian universities.”
Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said, “This important milestone will play a role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Jewish students on campus. We thank [vice-chancellor] Professor [Margaret] Gardner and the Monash leadership for listening to the concerns of Jewish students and the community leadership. We call on other universities to follow their lead.
“The Zionist Federation looks forward to working with Monash University to ensure that the IHRA working definition is implemented effectively and that the university remains a safe and inclusive place for all of its students and staff.”
Australasian Union of Jewish Students vice-president Paris Enten, a Monash student, added, “As the university with the highest number of Jewish students in the country, this is a significant step forward for the wellbeing of hundreds of Jewish students and the broader Jewish community.
“It demonstrates a commitment to fostering an inclusive and safe environment for all students, and I am proud to be part of a university that takes such a strong stance against hate and discrimination.”
Member for Macnamara Josh Burns, a co-chair of the federal Parliamentary Friends of IHRA, said as a Monash graduate, he “couldn’t be prouder to have my own university adopt this as part of their anti-racism commitment”.
“I look forward to more universities … respond[ing] to the Parliamentary Friends of IHRA’s request for the widespread adoption of this antisemitism definition,” he said.
Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Daniel Aghion said students “will be better protected from antisemitic hate speech, thanks to steps taken by Monash University to incorporate the IHRA’s Working Definition of Antisemitism into its broader Anti-Racism Policy”.
“The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism is the Victorian Jewish community’s preferred definition to be used by policymakers and educators to better understand antisemitism. We know this because the JCCV, the peak body of the Victorian Jewish community, put it to a community vote and it was ratified virtually unanimously,” he said.
“The JCCV stands behind AUJS and its membership in its continuing work to ensure Jewish students feel safe and included on campus.”
Congratulating Monash for adopting the definition, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said, “At a time of rising antisemitism on campuses and increasing mainstreaming of openly antisemitic material in the public sphere, it’s more important than ever that every university administration is able to identify antisemitism and be equipped to promote environments which are safe for Jewish staff and students.
“The IHRA definition is effective in identifying contemporary manifestations of this pernicious, ancient and enduring form of ethnic hatred and, as the recognised international standard, should be adopted to assist those undertaking the important role of providing defence from, and recourse to, victims of antisemitism.”