MEDIA RELEASE: The ECAJ congratulates NUS for passing historic resolution on antisemitism
14 December 2017
National Union of Students National Conference Resolution on Antisemitism
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the peak representative body of the Australian Jewish community and the national affiliate of the World Jewish Congress, warmly congratulates the National Union of Students (NUS) for passing an historic resolution at its National Conference today which explicitly “condemns antisemitism in all its forms as defined by the… International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)”.
The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism includes, among other things, “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel”, making “stereotypical allegations about Jews controlling the media, economy, government and other societal institutions,” “denying the Jewish people their right of self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavor”, and “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”
The text of the resolution passed by the NUS National Conference and the course of action prescribed by the resolution to counter antisemitism on Australian campuses, is entirely sensible, uncontroversial and in keeping with the legal and moral duty of Australian public institutions to operate free from racial discrimination.
This resolution was long overdue. The ECAJ and our campus-based affiliate, the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS), have for a considerable time warned of an increasingly toxic atmosphere on Australian campuses for Jewish students, both as a result of resurgent neo- Nazi/far-right antisemitism and persistent far-left antisemitism.
The resolution was passed with the support of student groups affiliated to both factions of the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party of Australia, and all independent and unaffiliated delegates.
It is shameful that the Trotskyist group, Socialist Alternative, abstained on the motion. Its representatives have acted in the worst traditions of Marxist dogmatism, giving a higher priority to adhering to the “correct” party line than to following the dictates of conscience and upholding the anti-racist principles for which they supposedly stand. This makes a mockery of their professed commitment to human rights and social justice and lays bare a deep prejudice and contempt for their Jewish fellow students, and Jewish Australians generally. Such double standards have become typical of contemporary far-left discourse and activism. Instead of slavishly following the example of Trotskyist groups overseas, it would be refreshing to see these young minds doing what university students are supposed to do, by learning to think for themselves.
We express the sincere hope that the leaders of Socialist Alternative will take stock of the fact that they alone have chosen to dismiss the concerns of Jewish Australian students about racism and exclusion on campus, and have effectively rejected the right of an historically oppressed community to identify what racism against it consists of.
We commend the delegates at the National Conference of the National Union of Students who voted conscionably and responsibly to act against antisemitism in all its grotesque forms, and look forward to seeing real action against antisemitism and other forms of racism by the student community.
Peter Wertheim AM | Executive Director
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