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Joint project to investigate campus antisemitism and Islamophobia

Jewish and Muslim researchers will work together to investigate the experiences of both communities on campus.
Deborah Stone
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Illustration: TJI

Published: 28 June 2024

Last updated: 28 June 2024

Monash University has launched a research project aimed at addressing antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus.

The researchers say the project will be the first to research the experiences of hate by Jewish and Muslim staff and students concurrently.

Campus Cohesion: Addressing antisemitism and Islamophobia will be led by Associate Professor David Slucki, a Jewish historian who is director of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash, and Dr Susan Carland, a Muslim sociologist who is Deputy Director of Research, Impact and Engagement for the School of Social Sciences at Monash.

"We are interested in understanding why they function in parallel and how they shape or feed one another."

Associate Professor David Slucki

The two-year project will focus on Monash University, but the researchers hope to extend it to other campuses and areas of society if funding allows.

Slucki acknowledged antisemitism and Islamophobia had different sources but said it was appropriate to study them in tandem to understand the relationship between them.

“Both these phenomena have spiked with the escalation of the war in Gaza – there is clearly then a link between the two, even if they arise for different reasons. So, we are interested in understanding why they function in parallel and how they shape or feed one another.” 

Current research into antisemitism and Islamophobia is based within each respective community. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry produces an annual report on antisemitic incidents and produced an extra report in response to the spike in antisemitism during the Israel-Hamas war. The Islamophobia Register collects similar data and has published four reports since 2014.

Slucki said it was important to have research that is conducted in an academic framework, not just by advocacy groups.

“The advantage of conducting this work within the university, rather than in a community or advocacy body, is that we have the capacity to build an interdisciplinary team of scholars with a range of expertise and backgrounds.

"With all expertise of a globally significant university at our fingertips, we will investigate the problem and formulate an action-based suite of solutions.”

He said the research would affect policy, not just collect data. “This is more than simply a survey – it is a university-wide research program that will have implications for the higher education sector nationally.”

Slucki said the research had been designed in response to tensions which are not new, but which have been exacerbated by the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, leaving both Jewish and Muslim students feeling marginalised and unwelcome on campus.

“Our aim is to work closely with students to provide a solid evidence base and formulate solutions that ensure a campus that is safe, welcoming, and a site of robust debate and respectful disagreement,” said Slucki. 

In the initial phase the researchers will conduct focus groups of students and staff who identify as Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab or Palestinian.

“We will identify the ways in which they experience the discrimination, harassment, and intimidation we know about anecdotally.“

The researchers will also be talking with university leaders both in Australia and around the world to establish best practice responses to antisemitism and Islamophobia. 

The project will additionally include a study on the presence of antisemitism and Islamophobia at Monash’s Malaysia campus.

On the controversial issue of how to define antisemitism, Slucki said the study would not be tied down to a single narrow definition but would formulate its framework as the research develops.

“We will take a broad-based approach to defining the phenomenon, recognising that definitions change over time and are always imprecise. We will draw on aspects of some of the more well-known definitions, but we will also draw on the vast body of scholarly work investigating antisemitism.”

About the author

Deborah Stone

Deborah Stone is Editor-in-Chief of TJI. She has more than 30 years experience as a journalist and editor, including as a reporter and feature writer on The Age and The Sunday Age, as Editor of the Australian Jewish News and as Editor of ArtsHub.

Comments2

  • Avatar of Debbi

    Debbi3 July at 03:39 am

    islamophobia – FEAR of Islam… phobia means fear. Not hatred. Yes I’m scared of them – they intimidate (anyone including other Muslims), bully, terrorize, and declare their contempt for our way of life in the West. We should be scared. Lumping Islamophobia with anti semitism is just absolutely wrong.

  • Avatar of Tal Spinrad

    Tal Spinrad2 July at 07:45 am

    No….linkage is an obscenity and perverts both the truth and the process.

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