Having written about the increasing antisemitism and delegitimization of Israel on British campuses, it is dreadfully sad to find that the same disease is afflicting campuses on the other side of the world, davka in Australia which is one of Israel’s most stalwart allies.
Col. Richard Kemp, the British Army hero of the Afghanistan War and an outstanding pro-Israel activist, was outrageously disrupted during a lecture to Sydney University by a bunch of anti-Israel protestors, led by one Professor Jake Lynch, who has a great deal of “form” when it comes to anti-Israel activism:
A LECTURE by retired army colonel Richard Kemp at the University of Sydney was disrupted by at least a dozen screaming students who fought with security on Wednesday afternoon.
The students had burst into the room shouting “Richard Kemp, you can’t hide, you support genocide” and wrestled with security guards before being removed from the hall.
Kemp was giving a lecture about ethical dilemmas of military tactics and dealing with non-state armed groups.
According to the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council’s Glen Falkenstein, protesters stood on chairs, began to push students and shout loudly at those who objected to their behaviour.
Professor Jake Lynch, the director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at the university, shouted in the faces of students and screamed that attempts to remove the protesters was a violent attack on freedom of speech by security guards. He was also seen holding money to the face of a Jewish student and filmed students in attendance without their consent. Prof Lynch later explained to The AJN that a woman behind the student not visible in the frame was physically attacking him and he held out the money to illustrate that he would sue her if she did not stop.
Aussie Dave disputes Lynch’s disingenuous protestations and thinks Lynch’s “excuse” insults our intelligence. I agree.:
So Mr Lynch, I invited you to explain yourself. I mean, surely this was not an antisemitic gesture, right? Perhaps you just wanted change. Because your actions against Israelis are not racially motivated. I mean, you said so.
The AJN article continues:
“This protest was about my perspective on the IDF,” Kemp said. “I was in Israel during the 2014 summer conflict and I do believe that the IDF in their attack on Hamas in Gaza … were doing everything they could to protect civilians … people have told me I am wrong, but no one has told me what more steps Israel could take to minimise civilian casualties.”
In a letter to Sydney University vice-chancellor Dr Michael Spence, Kemp said Lynch’s behaviour was “deeply shocking and offensive” and that Lynch sought to incite and encourage the student protesters.
“Can it be right that members of your university staff should indulge in such disgraceful action?” he asked.
“I urge you to investigate this incident and to take action against the students and staff members who were responsible for the behavior that I have described.”
I’ve uploaded Richard Kemp’s letter of protest to Scribd. See below and scroll through to read:
Watch this video from the AJN link and tell me if you found it as nauseating as I did in the hatred displayed towards Israel, and as totally dismaying in the blind repetition of meaningless mantras like “Free Palestine” yelled by the protestors. The fact is that if they would have sat through Col. Kemp’s lecture they might have learned a thing or two. But for the BDS bigots, there is no fact that can change their mind otu of their unreasoning hatred.
Shirlee Finn at Jews Down Under reminds us of Professor Jake Lynch’s virulently anti-Israel record, and provides a counter-viewpoint proving that the BDS bigots are, well, bigots:
Sydney University academic Professor Suzanne Rutland was present at the event and I spoke to her shortly following its conclusion:
“I feel that the demonstration really showed clearly that the anti-Israel group speaks in slogans without any sort of understanding of the intricacies of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and without any sort of acknowledgement that when they stand there chanting, “free Palestine,” what they mean is the dismantling of the Zionist entity which means genocide against Israel’s Jewish population.”
Professor Rutland said,
“Accusing Israel of committing genocide has no academic basis whatsoever; they even said the Colonel (Kemp) was responsible for genocide. I strongly support legitimate criticism and when we teach about Israel we try to present a critical, balanced voice which is part of academic learning.”
“What I think the demonstration represented was the struggle faced by myself and others on campus who are opposed to Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions. While we try to follow the rules of polite debate, the BDS supporters will often not allow an alternative voice and this is what happened during the lecture.”
Peter Baldwin, a former Australian Labour Party politician who was present at the lecture and the protest, wrote a strong letter of complaint to the vice-chancellor of the university, demanding they take action against anti-Israel protestors:
In amongst the robotic chanting a few things stood out. The screeching young woman can be clearly heard expressing sympathy for the extremist organisation Hitz ut-Tahrir, whose Australian spokesman gained notoriety last year for refusing (on ABC Lateline) to condemn the tactics of Islamic State (beheadings, crucifixions, incinerations, selling women into slavery). When one of the protestors was accused of fascistic behaviour, he responded “we are not fascists, we’re Marxist-Leninists” – another totalitarian ideology responsible for tens of millions of deaths.
The disruptors tried to suppress the views of Colonel Kemp, who gave a lucid and well-reasoned account of the moral issues in this kind of conflict in the limited time he had available, yet insist on the right of Hitz ut-Tahrir to spout their genocidal ideology, a sample of which was reported in today’s Australian newspaper:
It seems you have active at your university a bunch of totalitarians who think they have a right of veto on the expression of views they disapprove of, and who will try to enforce this veto by violent disruption. The effect this will have on the free exchange of ideas is obvious. Potential speakers will think twice about the prospect of being subjected to this kind of thing. The expression of certain viewpoints will quietly disappear from campuses and students will increasingly inhabit an intellectual monoculture in which only approved opinions are sayable.
According to one Jewish student who I communicated with today the climate at Sydney University is becoming increasingly poisonous and fearful for identifiably Jewish students, especially those who have the temerity to defend Israel.
More to the point, will you:
· Unequivocally condemn this behaviour and make clear it will not be tolerated in future
· Take steps to ensure the perpetrators are dealt with under university disciplinary procedures
· Commit to restoring a genuine climate of free debate at Sydney University in which all can participate without fear of intimidation?
I look forward to your response.
So do we all. I wonder if the University leadership is up to the challenge.
Crossing over to America, besides the similar constant anti-Israel BDS activity on campus, a Jewish student at UCLA came face-to-face with some classic anti-Semitism – and the perpetrators did not even realise what was wrong with what they were doing until it was clearly pointed out to them!
Prof. William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection covered this incident extensively in UCLA student government candidate challenged for being Jewish:
In an Editorial, The UCLA Daily Bruin newspaper called this unacceptable discrimination, Objections to USAC Judicial Board appointment discriminatory:
Religious affiliations and ethnic identity should not and do not disqualify someone from being an effective judge.
And yet, at Tuesday night’s Undergraduate Students Association Council meeting, that’s exactly what council members were arguing.
During the meeting, several council members … raised concerns about the appointment of Rachel Beyda, a second-year economics student, to the USAC Judicial Board, UCLA student government’s highest judicial body.
After much discussion and the intervention of administrators, Beyda was eventually unanimously appointed to the position – but not before several council members managed to politicize her identity as a Jewish student on campus.
The main objection to her appointment was Beyda’s affiliation with Jewish organizations at UCLA and how they might affect her ability to rule fairly on cases in which the Jewish community has a vested interest in the outcome, such as cases related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
That objection is confounding both for its vast shortsightedness and for its flat-out discriminatory nature….
It is obvious that the objections to Beyda’s appointment are not only political, but also discriminatory. To hold an applicant to a standard higher than others simply because of his or her ethnic or religious identity instead of his or her ability to rule fairly in accordance with USAC regulations is illogical and immoral.
LI’s coverage eventually drew the attention of the mainstream media, with the New York Times itself expressing outrage over the incident:
Long time Legal Insurrection readers know that for years we have been sounding the alarm over the connection between the gross anti-Israel propaganda which demonizes and dehumanizes both Israeli Jews and supporters of Israel, and anti-Semitism.
Now the story has gone mainstream, with an article in The NY Times, In U.C.L.A. Debate Over Jewish Student, Echoes on Campus of Old Biases:
The NYT article comments:
“We don’t like to wave the flag of anti-Semitism, but this is different,” Rabbi Aaron Lerner, the incoming executive director of the Hillel chapter at U.C.L.A., said of the vote against Ms. Beyda. “This is bigotry. This is discriminating against someone because of their identity.”
Reports of anti-Israeli or anti-Jewish sentiment have been on the rise across the country in recent years, especially directed at younger Jews, researchers said. Barry A. Kosmin, a Trinity College researcher and a co-author of a study issued last month that found extensive examples of anti-Semitism directed at college students, said he had not come across anything as striking as what happened at U.C.L.A.
“It’s egregious and startling,” Mr. Kosmin said. “If they had used this with any other group — sexual, racial, any kind of identity group — they would have realized it was illegal.”
Yet some Jewish leaders here questioned whether Mr. Block or the students appreciated the meaning of the event. John L. Rosove, the senior rabbi at Temple Israel of Hollywood, said the incident “reflects something deeper, more troubling, insidious, and pervasive not just at U.C.L.A. but on college campuses nationwide.”
“I am not one who sees anti-Semites lurking under every bed,” he wrote in his blog. “I am not a fear-monger. I do not believe that all criticism of Jews or the state of Israel is necessarily anti-Semitic.”
“Yet,” he said, “our inability to use the term anti-Semitism when it concerns Jews, when we don’t have a problem calling other forms of ethnic and religious bigotry what it is, raises disturbing questions about prevalent attitudes towards Jews, Judaism, Zionism, and the state of Israel.”
Prof. Jacobson notes:
Prof. Jacobson is absolutely correct in pointing out the connection between anti-Israel activitty and old-fashioned anti-Semitism. The anti-Israel activists can claim till they’re blue in the face that they’re not antisemitic, but the fact that Israel is the only country singled out for this kind of delegitimization and boycott activity, and the provable fact that BDS does indeed lead to outright antisemitism cannot be denied.
I cannot leave this post and the previous one on this depressing note, and so I bring you, via the invaluable Israellycool, a heartening video of a Muslim student on a South African campus who decries the BDS activists, calling them “barbarians”:
Kol hakavod to the Muslim student. I hope she keeps safe and that her anti-BDS stance won’t negatively affect her grades.