"We are here today,” Professor Stuart Rees told a media conference at Queens Square on October 30, “to express our outrage that a so-called independent law centre from Israel could attempt to stamp out freedom of speech in Australia.”
"We call on the mainstream media to take an objective stand on the issue of Palestinian human rights.”
The gathering concerned the move by Shurat HaDin, an Israeli-based law centre, to file a case in the Federal Court against Professor Jake Lynch of the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.
Rees and Professor Peter Slezak said before the conference: "[Shurat HaDin] claim that [Rees] he has supported policies which are racist and discriminatory by his specific endorsement of an academic boycott of Israeli institutions and individuals within them, because of these institutions' support of the illegal occupation of Palestine and their close connections with the Israeli armament industry.
"This lawfare attack against academic freedom and freedom of speech has been condemned by over 2000 Australian and international human rights advocates from some 60 countries, who have all signed a pledge supporting BDS and offering to be co-defendants in any legal action taken against Lynch.
"Shurat HaDin has taken many similar actions internationally against groups who supported the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. Professor Rees comments, 'It seems that this firm, Shurat HaDin, works in the civil courts as a proxy for the Israeli government and security forces, seeking to shut down any criticism of the state and its ongoing human rights abuses and violations of international law.'
"This overseas law firm now wants to silence this highly regarded academic, by taking their complaint to the Federal Court. This challenges the right to take non-violent action in support of international human rights law and the rights of the dispossessed Palestinians. Australians for BDS condemns racism in all its forms, and specifically anti-Semitism.”