Judicial inquiry

ZFA supports Coalition and crossbench push

'The failure of many university leaders to combat the alarming rise in antisemitism on campus ... demands immediate and serious action'

Senator Sarah Henderson.
Senator Sarah Henderson.

The Liberal-National Coalition and other non-government MPs and Senators have backed calls for an urgent judicial inquiry into antisemitism at Australian universities.

They have written to the Prime Minister calling for the Government to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism across the country.

Sarah Henderson, the shadow education minister, said, “The failure of many university leaders to combat the alarming rise in antisemitism on campus, including encampments and other protest activity which are fuelling unprecedented levels of antisemitic hate and incitement, demands immediate and serious action.”

She said too many Jewish Australians are living in fear including those learning and working at Australian universities.

The Labor government had announced an inquiry into racism in its budget announcement.

However, that will take the form of a two-year internal study by the Australian Human Rights Commission looking at “antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism and the experience of First ­Nations people in the university sector”.

The opposition letter to the Prime Minister has called for antisemitism to be the sole focus.

The Zionist Federation of Australia supported the call for an inquiry.

ZFA director of public affairs Bren Carlill said, “The situation on campus is unprecedented and deeply troubling. Jewish students are being targeted, are being intimidated, and are staying away from campus. The level of antisemitism on campus was already at intolerable levels before the Hamas-Israel war began, and has only worsened since.”

Carlill said the Australian community has the right to know what publicly-funded universities did when they became aware of this antisemitism and what processes – if any – they put in place to reduce it, both before 7 October and since.

“Any inquiry into the current intolerable situation must have the power to compel university administrators to appear and produce relevant documentation. Any review that doesn’t will ultimately fail to understand the situation or to have the means to provide the recommendations to fix it,” he said.

Carlill said the ZFA isn’t backing any specific type, whether it’s a judicial or Senate inquiry.

“But what we do know is that the situation is urgent and serious, and it is well-passed time for action,” he said.

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