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Jewish groups decry universities motion

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Jewish groups have lashed ­Australia’s academic union for “promoting hatred’’ in universities, demanding it rescind an “anti-Semitic’’ resolution against Israel.

Australian Jewish Association president David Adler described a National Tertiary Education Union council motion as “an attack on every Jew in Australia’’.

“Along with falsely accusing the only Jewish state of ethnic cleansing and apartheid, the motion calls for members to boycott the Jewish state and even refuse to take part in trips organised by Australian Jewish organisations,’’ he said. “Those promoting such hatred should have no place in Australian universities.’’

The AJA’s condemnation follows an NTEU council vote to ban its 27,000 university staff and academic members from accepting expenses-paid tours to Israel sponsored by “pro-Israel organisations’’.

In a motion passed at its nat­ional council meeting last week, the NTEU said Israeli academic institutions were “complicit in the violation of Palestinian rights through financial ties and collaboration with the Israeli army and arms manufacturers’’.

Citing Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the NTEU said “Israel is committing the crime of apartheid’’.

“The NTEU stands against settler-colonial violence and land theft in Australia, Palestine and everywhere,’’ the motion states. “Palestinian access to education, free expression and academic participation is severely restricted by apartheid, colonialism and ongoing violence against Palestinian students, academics and institutions.

“The NTEU is also concerned that academics, students and university staff who engage in critical scholarship of Israel, or who express support for Palestinian justice, have been subject to censure, deplatforming, and disciplinary action.’’

The NTEU motion also opposes “the adoption of policies that prohibit criticism of Israel by any Australian academic institution’’. And it rejects the International Holocaust Remem­brance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which includes “claiming the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour’’.

“The NTEU believes that adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism at Australian universities should be opposed, as it would chill free speech, restrict academic freedom, and restrict peaceful political express­ion,’’ the motion states.

Dr Adler said the NTEU was “spreading intolerance and hate”.

“In a climate of rising anti-­Semitism and attacks on Jews, including on Australian university campuses, this motion is likely to add fuel to the fire,” he said.

“Jewish students repeatedly say they feel unsafe on campus and instead of standing with their students, these educators have taken the side of the attackers.’’

An NTEU spokesman yesterday refused to rescind the motion, saying it was a “gross misrepresentation’’ to describe it as anti-Semitic.

“The union has a proud history of standing up against oppression and defending academic freedom,’’ he said.

“The NTEU opposes anti-Semitism and all prejudice in the strongest terms and will consult with Jewish academics and community organisations to determine how to address and counter anti-Semitism at universities.’’

Natasha Bita

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Article source: The Australian
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2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000