Sydney students defend academics over Israel boycott

Students rallied to support academic boycott against Israel. Photo: Rachel Evans

About 50 people joined a rally at Sydney University on August 28 to show solidarity with academics Jake Lynch and Stuart Rees, who have been threatened with legal action over their strong backing for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against apartheid Israel.

Lynch, Rees and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at Sydney university are facing a legal suit by Shurat HaDin, an Israeli Law Centre.

Lynch, the director of CPACS, recently refused to collaborate with an Israeli academic from the Hebrew University, Dan Avnon. Avnon had proposed a "fellowship agreement between the two institutions."

Lynch declined, in order to abide by the Palestinian call to refrain from participation in "collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions." The CPACS maintains an academic boycott of Israeli universities.

Following this stand, Lynch and his supporters have been smeared as "anti-Semitic" and irrational. The Hebrew University’s involvement in the illegal occupation of Palestinian land refutes these attacks on Lynch and the CPACS. For example, the Mount Scopus campus of the university is built on stolen Palestinian land in the Occupied Territories.

The rally was organised by Students for Palestine and featured speakers including Rees, Vivienne Porzsolt, a long-time activist with Jews Against the Occupation and Greens MP David Shoebridge.

Rally speakers and supporters vowed to defy attempts at intimidation and moves to stifle free speech on campus and elsewhere, and to continue to support the BDS campaign.

Click here to sign on as a co-defendant with Lynch and Rees in defence of the BDS campaign.