On Thursday, December 14th, the National Union of Students (NUS) in Australia recognized the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. This adoption was part of a resolution, proposed by the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) during the NUS National Conference. The broadly stated goals of the resolution include a condemnation of anti-Semitism, as well as a pledge to counter the rise of anti-Semitism on university campuses within Australia. The motion also asked the NUS to ensure that all of its programs and spaces become “inclusive and welcoming of Jewish voices and perspectives.”
The NUS has already stated, according to the Algemeiner, that it will begin this process by “providing kosher food options at its events, helping AUJS ask universities for special consideration of Jewish holidays for Jewish students, ensure that observant students have access to appropriate religious facilities, and to survey the effects of anti-Semitism on Australian campuses.” The NUS has also stated that it will officially recognize January 27th as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and will work with the AUJS to provide greater Holocaust education. This motion comes after the publishing of a report on anti-Semitism by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, which found that anti-Semitic incidents have risen by 9.5% between 2016 and 2017 in Australia.
The adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, a move also seen in the recent adoption of the definition by the Austrian Student Union, charts a clear course in the National Union of Students’ commitment to fighting against the resurgence of anti-Semitism. Various nations, including the United Kingdom, Romania and Germany, have also adopted the definition.
In the United States, several student government bodies on campuses nationwide, including UCLA, Indiana University, East Carolina University, and San Diego State, have adopted resolutions condemning anti-Semitism and adopting the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism – a very similar definition to that of the IHRA . The State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism was just adopted by the Village of Bal Harbour for the use of law enforcement officers, marking Bal Harbour the first government body in the United States to incorporate this important definition into their laws. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, federal legislation which incorporated the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, passed the United States Senate by unanimous, bipartisan consent last December. Similar legislation has been introduced in several states, including South Carolina.
The decision by the NUS to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism is a continuation of a broad international trend, one that highlights the need for a clear definition of anti-Semitism. The definition serves as a tool that will help these nations, municipalities, and organizations all fight against this resurgent form of bigotry.