Australian student union calls for boycott of ‘apartheid colonial state’ of Israel
Australian student union calls for boycott of ‘apartheid colonial state’
(Times of Israel, 15/8/2022)
University of Melbourne’s union passes motion accusing Jewish state of ethnic
cleansing of Palestinians; Jewish bodies condemn ‘venomous’ language
The student body of Australia’s highest-ranked university passed a motion
Monday calling for a full academic boycott of all Israeli institutions. A similar
motion was passed in April before being repealed amid community
backlash and the threat of legal action.
The new motion, passed on Monday by the University of Melbourne
Student Union (UMSU), featured a strongly worded preamble accusing
Israel of the “ethnic cleansing of more than 350+ Palestinian villages and
towns” and “forcefully displacing over 750,000 Palestinians from their
Much of the language of Monday’s motion is identical to April’s motion. It
was not immediately clear what led UMSU to resubmit the motion.
The motion was passed 13–3 with one abstention.
The preamble says Israel is an “apartheid colonial state” operating an
“open-air prison” in the Gaza Strip. The document suggests Israel intends
to carry out a forceful expulsion of Gazans followed by the “massacre” of
those who remain in the coastal enclave.
The April motion sparked an enormous backlash against the student body.
At the time, a University of Melbourne spokesperson distanced the
institution from its student body, saying the motion was “not the position of
the University of Melbourne.”
Shortly after its passing, a non-Jewish student, Justin Riazaty, launched a
lawsuit, alleging that the motion was in violation of Australian law. Amid
growing legal pressure and accusations of antisemitism, the student union
revoked the motion in May.
In response to the fresh motion, which claims that Zionism is a racist
colonial ideology, a coalition of Australian Jewish advocacy groups
released a joint statement saying, “It is disingenuous to suggest that this
motion is simply about criticism of the Israeli government or support for the
Palestinians… the motion is imbued with racism and its language drips with
The statement also made mention of “death threats and a planned
stabbing” that it contends was fostered by on-campus antisemitic rhetoric.
“We reject the lies in this motion. We reject the denial of Jewish connection
to Israel, and we stand by Jewish students who face constant antisemitism
and unrelenting hatred on campus because of who they are, and their
family, ethnic, cultural and religious connections to Israel,” the statement
Speaking to the Times of Israel, Jewish student leader Josh Feldman said,
“The student union has sent a clear message that Jewish students aren’t
welcome on campus, and that message is bound to have tangible
Feldman urged fellow Jewish students to “scream from the rooftops” due to
the lack of support from the wider public. “Under no circumstances will we
tolerate attacks against the Jewish community at Australian universities.”
After the threat of renewed legal action against the student body, the
president of the student union, Sophie Nguyen, called the reaction
“disgusting” in a series of tweets Monday.
“In my opinion, we have done everything right and stayed true to the
purposes and aims of our student union. It is shameful that legal threats are
used to undermine democratic processes and to scare students,” she said.
Addressing persistent accusations of antisemitism, Nguyen said, “I strongly
stand against antisemitism. This sort of behavior is not on and should never
be tolerated on campus — or anywhere. In the same way, I refuse to
conflate antisemitism with supporting [the] Palestinian struggle for self-
determination and freedom.”
Article source: Times of Israel, 15/8/2022