15 June, 2022

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. S.L. Game:

That this council:

1. Endorses and adopts the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism together with its contemporary examples, which is: 'Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.'

2. Notes that this definition is to be understood in the contemporary examples given by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, such as:

(a) calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion;

(b) making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective—such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions;

(c) accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews;

(d denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (for example, gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust);

(e) accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust;

(f) accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations;

(g) denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, for example, by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour;

(h) applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation;

(i) using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (for example, claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis;

(j) drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis; and

(k) holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel

(Continued from 1 June 2022.)


The Hon. J.S. LEE (16:29): I rise today on behalf of the Opposition to speak to the private member's motion moved by the Hon. Sarah Game. This motion calls on the Legislative Council to endorse and adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, together with its contemporary examples.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) formerly named the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, was initiated in 1998 with the objective of uniting Governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education research and remembrance.

Today, the IHRA's membership consists of 35 member countries, each of whom recognise that international political coordination is imperative to strengthen the moral commitment of societies and to combat growing Holocaust denial and antisemitism.

IHRA experts determined that, in order to begin to address the problems of antisemitism, there must be clarity about what antisemitism is. The IHRA's Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial worked to build an international consensus around a non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism, which was subsequently adopted by the plenary in March 2016. The contemporary examples of antisemitism outlined in the motion are intended to serve as illustrations to guide the IHRA in its work to combat antisemitism.

Honourable Members may be aware that Australia officially became the 33rd member of the IHRA on 4 June 2019. The Australian Government also officially endorsed the IHRA working definition of antisemitism in October 2021. Honourable Members in this place on many occasions continue to inform the public about the devastation of the Holocaust, with the aim to educate our community to ensure that the atrocities of the past are not forgotten and never repeated.

In South Australia, the Adelaide Holocaust Museum and Andrew Steiner Education Centre is dedicated to tracing the history of the Holocaust and telling the stories of Holocaust survivors who made South Australia home. The museum's educational programs, exhibitions and collections encourage visitors to think critically about issues that remain relevant in our contemporary society and to be active citizens who take action against antisemitism or any form of prejudice, hate and racism.

The former Marshall Liberal Government played an important role in providing funding to support the Holocaust Museum and Steiner Education Centre to develop their education program. I wish to particularly acknowledge the Hon. John Gardner, who helped to drive this support in his role as former Minister for Education, and James Stevens MP, the Federal Member for Sturt, who actively lobbied the former Federal Liberal Government for additional funding.

The education centre provides tours for school students and members of the public to learn about South Australia's connection to the Holocaust, which is not only of deep importance to our Jewish community but to all active and engaged citizens.

While recognising the good intention of the motion moved by the Hon. Sarah Game, such a motion can, however, provoke a range of different opinions and responses from community members who have different view. I am sure many honourable Members have received dozens of emails from community members, including the chairperson of the Australian Friends of Palestine Association, all raising their concerns about this motion, in particular the adoption of the IHRA contemporary examples of antisemitism.

As we live in a multicultural and multifaith society, with people arriving here from all parts of the world, it is important that all Australians, no matter where they come from, uphold the value of respect for cultural diversity but have the opportunity also to raise their concerns and present their views for consideration.

As Members of Parliament, we are not strangers to receiving a range of diverse views, and it is important that these views, whether positive or negative, are being heard and presented here for consideration. I understand that community members and the Australian Friends of Palestine Association have deep concerns about the matter and have asked Members of the Legislative Council to oppose this motion. In the email correspondence I received, the statement was as follows:

“The IHRA definition is deeply flawed, and existing laws more than adequately provide for protection for all Australians from all forms of discrimination, including from violence or incitement to violence, irrespective of its motivation. The effect of the definition, if adopted, will be to stifle legitimate debate over Israel and Palestine.”

These community members believe that some of the examples provided by IHRA may stifle legitimate debate about the policies and actions of the state of Israel and the ongoing conflict in Gaza and the West Bank.

While today we are debating this motion in South Australia, it is important to remind honourable Members that foreign affairs and international matters are within the jurisdictions and responsibilities of the Federal Government. To this end, the Australian Government has repeatedly stated its concerns about the escalating violence and humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank and has called on all parties to refrain from violence and to focus on direct and genuine peace negotiations.

More recently, Australia has also provided additional humanitarian funding for the Palestinian Territories in 2021 to address critical humanitarian needs. Australia's ongoing development program and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian Territories is a practical demonstration of the Australian Government's longstanding support for a two-state solution in which Israel and a future Palestinian state coexist in peace and security within internationally recognised borders.

It is also important to emphasise that neither the working definition of antisemitism nor the contemporary examples of antisemitism set out by IHRA are legally binding, and they are intended to serve only as illustrations or case examples of what antisemitism could look like, rather than legal prohibitions. In fact, the Plenary of the IHRA only adopted the working definition of antisemitism which is quoted in the first clause of this motion, not the list of contemporary examples outlined in the second clause of this motion.

I think it is important to acknowledge these concerns and note that the legitimate criticism of Israeli policies and actions is not inherently antisemitic in itself. These are important discussions that deeply affect diverse community members in South Australia, and ongoing dialogue must be acknowledged. I wish to thank everyone who has written to my office regarding this motion and who has raised their concerns with me.

I hold the same view as the Hon. Sarah Game, the mover of this motion, and many honourable Members in this house, that all individuals and communities, regardless of their cultural background or religion, should be able to follow their beliefs and express their views free of discrimination or prejudice in accordance with the Australian rule of law. In this regard, I work with all honourable Members to stand against all forms of hatred, discrimination and racism, including antisemitism. We will continue to advocate for a more inclusive and harmonious society.