Forum discusses non-violent resistance in Palestine

A forum on the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement will be presented in Sydney on April 8, and will be an opportunity to hear an open and informative discussion on peaceful non-violent resistance in Israel and Palestine.

As the Australian media and politicians debate the effectiveness and legitimacy of the recent Sydney Biennale boycott, a cross section of speakers will offer their support to the global BDS movement — the Palestinian led campaign for justice, equality and peace for all in Israel and Palestine.

One of the key speakers is Professor Jake Lynch who is now defending himself in the Federal Court against Israeli-based law firm ShuratHaDin for his support for the BDS.

Lynch, an academic from the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, is the subject of a Federal Court application. It aims to have the campaign for an academic boycott of Israel declared in breach of Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act, as an example of anti-Semitic racism.

The policy that Lynch adopted five years ago was to boycott institutional links with Israeli universities. These include two funded fellowship schemes, which pay for academics from the Technion University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to visit Sydney.

In this policy, there is no suggestion of discrimination against individuals. An individual applicant could be of any national, racial or religious background, because the policy is not based on any of these things.

Instead, it is based on the extensive links between these and other Israeli universities, and the country’s military and arms industry; the responsibility on all of us to do something to oppose Israeli militarism and lawlessness. To cooperate with these schemes is to become complicit in the oppression of Palestinians.

Lynch said: “The case against me is a despicable attack on political freedom in Australia, and an attempt to stifle debate. When there is debate, and when people are properly informed, they are incredulous at what Israel gets away with. That is why the BDS movement is growing so rapidly around the world.”

Australian freelance journalist Mary Kostakidis said: “Sanctions are a legitimate non-violent protest against unacceptable government actions and policies. For years Israel has been violating international law with few repercussions because governments do not have the courage to stand up to powerful lobby groups.

“Recently, foreign minister Julie Bishop read a statement in parliament announcing Australian government sanctions against Russia. Governments impose sanctions when it suits their allies or their own national interest. More rarely, they do so on principle and after pressure mounting in their own community as we saw during the apartheid era.

“We need to defend courageous, principled individuals and organisations that take the lead. BDS is a growing international movement targeting Israeli government policy, a policy also unacceptable to many Israelis and Jewish people around the world.”

This BDS forum will raise public awareness of the effectiveness of the strategy and dispel the myths that have been spread about it, including the often-heard claim that BDS is anti-Semitic.

Other speakers include playwright and policy analyst Samah Sabawi, French BDS activist Olivia Zemor, with testimonies from: Mary Kostakidis, Wendy Bacon, Antony Loewenstein, Warren Smith. Omar Barghouti and Phil Monsour (via Skype).

[The forum will be held on April 8 at 6.30pm at Footbridge Theatre, Parramatta Road, Camperdown. Entry by donation, all funds raised go to the Jake Lynch Fighting Fund.]