In Queensland, antisemitism is on the rise and the Queensland Parliament is reviewing the laws around hate crimes and vilification. The Queensland Jewish Board of Deputies has made a detailed submission to the Inquiry and is calling for the laws to change.

Antisemitism is racism and bigotry against Jews. It is prejudice and hatred spanning approximately 3,000 years. Contemporary antisemitism is back with a vengeance, and also now takes the form of a denial of Jewish peoplehood and basic rights, particularly in relation to Israel and Zionism. 

The most widely accepted definition of antisemitism by western governments, among others, is the ‘Working Definition of Antisemitism’ adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) on 26 May 2016. Australia was admitted to full membership of the IHRA in June 2019.

IHRA’s working definition 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.”

In summary, contemporary antisemitism is manifested through:

  • religious anti-Jewish themes deriving from Christian and Islamic theological supersessionism and supremacism
  • racial antisemitism deriving from racial supremacist ideologies, including Nazi and white supremacist ideologies
  • political antisemitism disguised as anti-Zionism and the denial of Jewish peoplehood, history, rights and dignity, emanating from both the far Left and the far-Right.

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.

Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor