University is right to uphold Israeli boycott

December 13, 2012

Resistance released this statement on December 14.


The Sydney University (USYD) Resistance club condemns the attack by the Australian on the university’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies for its decision to uphold a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

The head of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Jake Lynch, declined a request from Israeli academic Dan Avnon to include him as a contact on his application for an academic exchange. His refusal upheld the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign which refuses academic, cultural and sporting institutions in protest against Israeli apartheid.

Christopher Pyne, federal MP for Sturt, alleged the decision would open the university up to "ridicule".

In fact, USYD would be joining other universities around the world, such as the University of Johannesburg who last year decided to end all relationships with Israeli academic institutions.

This year campus representative bodies across the world have also decided to divest from contracts with companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The Coalition’s attack is an attempt to intimidate universities and academics of conscience out of supporting Palestinian civil society’s call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

“Christopher Pyne is on the wrong side of history”, said USYD Resistance club president Patrick Harrison.

“The fact that he is attacking academic freedom by intimidating those of conscience who heed the Palestinian call to break all ties with Israeli institutions means that he’s learnt nothing from the history books. Apartheid South Africa eventually crumbled with the support of peoples of conscience all around the world, including Australia.

“Mr Pyne’s allegation that the decision has anything to do with Dan Avnon's Jewish religion or Israeli nationality is absurd. His implicit allegation that the University department’s decision is anti-Semitic is also offensive. The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies hosted prominent Israeli historian Ilan Pappe in September.”

"Interestingly, the Australian isn’t interested in reporting on the major links between the University of Sydney and the University of Technion in Haifa, Israel, which is heavily involved in military research. This academic link included an official exchange program.

“Earlier this year, the online journal New Matilda exposed the systematic attempts by the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) to influence campus politics by providing expenses-paid tours to Israel to student politicians. This wasn't reported by the Australian either.

Clearly the Australian has an editorial bias against any criticism of Israel," said Harrison. “This is despite the fact that most Australians do not support Israel’s attacks on Palestine and that government’s flouting of international law with its illegal settlement building.”

The Australian reported on a protest organised by the Palestine Action Group on December 9 calling on consumers to boycott Israeli businesses which profit from the occupation of Palestine.

"Two people, including one well-known Islamophobe, racially targeted one young pro-Palestine campaigner and aggressively taunted and insulted him. One of these men shouldered him," said Pip Hinman, activist with Stop the War Coalition.

These provocations — in full view of the Australian reporter and photographer, and the JWire reporter — went unreported by either publication.

“The Australian's reporters, Christian Kerr — who authored many of Murdoch's attacks on the Greens support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign — and Rick Morton wrote nothing about the outrageous provocations and aggression by the Islamophobe. Instead, their article alleged that “tempers frayed” because annoyed shoppers wanted to listen to Christmas carols,” said Hinman.

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