Senate debates

Tuesday, 30 November 2021


Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, Anti-Semitism

8:09 pm

Photo of Paul ScarrPaul Scarr (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Firstly, I want to acknowledge Senator Lambie's contribution to the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. She thanked a lot of people for their contribution, but I hope Senator Lambie has an opportunity to reflect on her contribution in this area.

I rise to take note of the Prime Minister's announcement last month that Australia has adopted the definition of 'anti-Semitism' that was adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. In fact, the Prime Minister in adopting that definition said: 'Anti-Semitism has no place in Australia. It has no place anywhere in the world.' I want to provide three reflections on the significance of this adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of anti-Semitism. First, it is fit and proper that Australia should adopt that definition. The reason for that is that this country has had a long and proud history of standing up and fighting anti-Semitism. In fact, on 10 November 1975 when a vile resolution, resolution 3379, was adopted by the United Nations, which stated: 'Zionism is a form of racism,' Australia was one of only 35 nations who voted against that resolution. When resolution 4686 of the United Nations was adopted in 1991, revoking that hideous resolution 3379, Australia was one of the 111 nations which supported the revocation of that previous resolution. So it is fit and proper that Australia adopt the definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

The second reflection I want to make is in relation to the actual words of the definition. We should all reflect on this. The definition is as follows:

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.

The alliance then provides some contemporary examples of anti Semitism. We should all reflect on these. I will refer to three of the 11 examples. The first example:

Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective…

We should all reflect on that definition. The second example:

Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

The third example:

Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

That is extremely important to note, that the mere act of denying the state of Israel its right of existence is in itself an act of anti-Semitism because to do that is to deny the Jewish people their right of self-determination.

The third reflection in relation to this is to echo the comments of Jillian Segal, who is a senior representative of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. Jillian Segal called upon both the public and the private sector—all of our institutions across Australia, including our universities—to adopt this definition of anti-Semitism. That is important. It is extremely important. I will certainly be looking at those institutions, including our universities, to see if they actually formally adopt the resolution, as they should.

I congratulate the Executive Council of Australian Jewry for their work in calling out anti-Semitism and finally say that that is an obligation upon all of us, to call out anti-Semitism wherever we see it.