Tuesday, 25 October 2011

More Boycott Israel Nonsense in Australia


Antony Loewenstein

This is what BDS should look like; not staying quiet while Israel and Australia continue the romance

How dare any­body raise ob­jec­tions to an Aus­tralian uni­ver­sity nor­mal­is­ing re­la­tions with Is­raeli acad­e­mia, de­spite the vast bulk of Pales­tini­ans under oc­cu­pa­tion in Pales­tine ac­tively op­pos­ing West­ern in­tel­lec­tu­als pro­vid­ing cover for Zion­ist crimes?
Today’s Mur­doch Aus­tralian has an ar­ti­cle, with the charm­ing head­line “Uni­ver­sity forum with Is­raeli aca­d­e­mics ‘of­fends Mus­lims’”, that high­lights one of the lone voices in Aus­tralian acad­e­mia will­ing to speak out strongly and reg­u­larly for Pales­tini­ans:
Uni­ver­sity of Syd­ney schol­ars set to ex­change ideas with vis­it­ing Is­raeli ex­perts on neu­ro­science, tis­sue re­gen­er­a­tion and other cut­ting-edge re­search areas are being warned the event will of­fend po­ten­tial Mus­lim un­der­grad­u­ates.
As­so­ci­ate Pro­fes­sor Jake Lynch, di­rec­tor of the uni­ver­sity’s Cen­tre for Peace and Con­flict Stud­ies, has urged his col­leagues to with­draw from the re­search gath­er­ing, and the uni­ver­sity ad­min­is­tra­tion to can­cel it.
Dr Lynch has been a strong sup­porter of the boy­cott, di­vest­ment and sanc­tions cam­paign de­signed to iso­late Is­rael. He says he has been asked to in­ter­vene by the Cam­paign for Jus­tice and Peace in Pales­tine, a group that has pushed the BDS cam­paign among coun­cils in Syd­ney.
The Is­rael Re­search Forum, to be held next Mon­day, will bring local schol­ars to­gether with re­searchers from Is­raeli uni­ver­si­ties and in­sti­tu­tions.
“The uni­ver­sity risks sus­tain­ing rep­u­ta­tional dam­age if the forum goes ahead,” Dr Lynch told The Aus­tralian yes­ter­day.
“It risks being seen as con­don­ing the com­plic­ity by Is­raeli uni­ver­si­ties in Is­rael’s breaches of in­ter­na­tional law and in­di­rectly raises prob­lems with the uni­ver­sity’s so­cial in­clu­sion pol­icy.”
In an email to staff due to take part, Dr Lynch con­demns the lack of Pales­tin­ian in­volve­ment and the fail­ure of Is­raeli uni­ver­si­ties to teach in Ara­bic.
In his let­ter to the uni­ver­sity’s deputy vice-chan­cel­lor, Pro­fes­sor John Hearn, he says the forum is con­trary to the uni­ver­sity’s so­cial in­clu­sion pol­icy, which re­quires it to reach out to stu­dents in west­ern Syd­ney.
He says most Mus­lim stu­dents live in the west and feel “a sense of re­sent­ment and alien­ation re­sult­ing from the pre­dom­i­nance of pro-Is­raeli voices in Aus­tralia’s po­lit­i­cal and media dis­courses”.
But one of the local schol­ars billed for the event, neu­ro­sci­en­tist Manuel Grae­ber, has emailed a strong de­fence of the forum to Dr Lynch, point­ing out that a sim­i­lar meet­ing with Arab schol­ars is sched­uled for next year. “The event with Is­rael should go ahead ex­actly as planned,” Pro­fes­sor Grae­ber writes. “There is ab­solutely noth­ing ques­tion­able about it. Aca­d­e­mics must not be held hostage by ide­olo­gies.”
In his reply to Dr Lynch, which he pro­vided to The Aus­tralian, Pro­fes­sor Hearn says: “In the in­ter­ests of aca­d­e­mic free­dom we should en­sure that the up­com­ing forum with Is­rael and the 2012 forum with the Arab coun­tries should be peace­ful and pro­duc­tive.”
An or­gan­iser of the forum, Uni­ver­sity of Syd­ney phys­i­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor Re­becca Mason, said col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Aus­tralian and Is­raeli schol­ars could shed light on prob­lems.

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