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Zyngier opposes Glen IHRA – The Australian Jewish News

FORMER Glen Eira mayor Jamie Hyams has declared that Jewish Greens councillor David Zyngier “should know better” after the latter was the sole representative to oppose a council report into adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

A motion was moved by Independent councillor Margaret Esakoff at the council’s March 15 meeting for council officers to prepare the report on the effects of council adopting the resolution for its April 26 meeting.

Noting that endorsing the definition would be “compatible” with other anti-racism initiatives previously taken by council, Esakoff noted that the IHRA definition “helps people understand what antisemitism means”.

“As the council with the largest Jewish community in Victoria it’s appropriate that Glen Eira takes the lead on this,” she said.

But rising to oppose the motion, Zyngier said it was “politicisation of council”.

“I’ve been fighting antisemitism and racism all my life … I recognise the rise of antisemitism here in Australia, and elsewhere around the world,” he said.

But he said, “Definitions don’t combat racism or antisemitism, nor do they make any Jew feel safer.

“Education alone doesn’t counter hate or discrimination. Because if that was the case, there would be no racism or discrimination.”

Citing a community safety draft plan in which 96 per cent of residents testified that they feel safe in the community, he added, “There is not a problem in our community.”

Welcoming Esakoff’s request for the report, Hyams, a long-term councillor before his retirement last year, said it is important that the council strongly supports the fight against racism and the IHRA definition “is an important and very authoritative tool to help do so”.

“I’m very disappointed that Cr Zyngier accused her [Esakoff] of politicising the council. The only one politicising the council here is Cr Zyngier,” Hyams said.

“I was also very surprised and disappointed that, in his seeming desperation to prevent a report on the IHRA definition, Cr Zyngier discounted the importance of education in countering hate and discrimination, and claimed that ‘there is not a problem in our community’. He should know better.”

Waverley Council in Sydney became the first local government body in Australia to adopt the IHRA definition last November, in a bipartisan vote that saw Liberal, Labor and Greens councillors all support the motion.

The AJN contacted Zyngier for comment, but a response was not received by deadline.

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