A group of Jewish leaders have condemned a motion passed by the University of Melbourne’s Student Union (UMSU) after it pledged support for the anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, sparking fears it could have a flow-on effect across university campuses. The student union passed a motion condemning Zionism as a “racist colonial ideology” and pledging its support for the BDS movement, urging the university leadership to endorse an academic boycott that would cut ties with Israeli institutions, and academics that support the “Israeli oppression of Palestinians”. It is understood the union is the first student representative body to pass a motion formally supporting the BDS movement in the country. The motion, passed 10-8 by the student council, stated the union’s endorsement of the BDS movement would encourage other student bodies to adopt similar resolutions in solidarity with Palestinians.

“Students around the world have been key participants in the fight against the illegal occupation of Palestine, protesting, and creating a discussion on respective campuses. It’s long overdue for a clear and firm stance by UMSU on these crimes,” the motion read. Jewish leaders blasted the union for creating a “fictitious” and “one-sided narrative” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, describing the resolution as “perverse” and “blatantly anti-Semitic”. Jewish Affairs Council director Colin Rubinstein said that the language of the motion was something that could have been expected from “Hamas or Hezbollah, not from the student union here in Australia”. Executive Council of Australian Jewry chief executive Peter Wertheim said it was possible other university student councils “would follow suit” and adopt a similar motion, but added that it would be a mistake to conclude there was a “broad student consensus behind these views”.

Adelaide University’s student representative council is considering a similar motion to UMSU, while the University of W.A. student guild last year altered its support of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, suspending its clause condemning calls for the destruction of the state of Israel. In February, Sydney University’s student body passed a motion supporting the boycott of the Sydney Festival but has not passed a formal motion supporting the BDS movement. Mr Wertheim said a handful of student activists passing through “propagandistic and racist resolutions” highlighted the urgent need for universities to adopt and apply the remembrance alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism. The Anti-Defamation Commission says acts of anti-Semitism in Australia have reached “pitch fever” following reports vandals had defaced the Lilydale Eagles Soccer Club in Melbourne, drawing Nazi swastikas on the club’s oval.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

Print This Post Print This Post

Comments are closed