Syd meeting backs BDS campaign against Israel

Issue 
BDS advocate: academic Jake Lynch.

Two hundred people attended a public meeting at the University of Sydney on April 7 to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Guest speaker Professor Jake Lynch is facing legal action from an Israeli law centre, the Shurat HaDin, for his refusal to cooperate with Israeli academics in honour of the academic boycott called by Palestinians.

Other speakers included playwright and policy analyst Samah Sabawi, French BDS activist Olivia Zemor, BDS National Committee member Omar Barghouti, journalists Wendy Bacon and Antony Loewenstein, Maritime Union of Australia assistant national secretary Warren Smith, and activist singer Phil Monsour.

Barghouti said the BDS National Committee would stand by Lynch.

"BDS is the most effective, non-violent action against Israel there is right now," he said.

Sabawi said: "Universities around the world have been rattled by the BDS movement. Israeli academic institutions are implicated in Israeli war crimes. And Israel restricts academic freedom in Palestine all the time."

Zemor said France faces the most aggressive Israeli lobby in the world.

"We face physical attack and government persecution," she said. "Nevertheless, the BDS movement is progressing everywhere. Israel's image is deteriorating internationally. What is at stake is the future of humanity."

Warren Smith said: "Our union has a proud history against South African apartheid. Boycotts and union bans can make a difference."

Antony Loewenstein said: "It is important for Jewish voices to speak out in support of BDS. Growing numbers of Jews worldwide oppose Israel's policies against Palestine."

Wendy Bacon said the lawsuit against Lynch was "an attempt to deny Jake's own academic freedom. Universities need to stand up for justice and the truth, not promote injustice."

[The meeting was organised by Australians4BDS.]