Australia is a relative newcomer to the BDS movement; however, in recent years Australian universities have been catching up. As IAM reported, Associate Professor Jake Lynch, a prominent pro-Palestinian activist, has used his position at the University of Sidney to launch a campaign of academic boycott. He was instrumental in nixing plans by a Hebrew University professor Dan Avnon, to spend a Sabbatical at the university
Lynch, in cooperation with Students for Justice in Palestine, has launched a new campaign to severe links with the "criminal Technion - Israel Instituted of Technology."
A number of Israeli and former Israeli academics have lent legitimacy to anti-Israeli atmosphere in Australia. In addition to the ubiquitous Ilan Pappe, Marcelo Svirsky did his part
. Gadi Algazi (TAU) has recently "discovered" the continent as well. Introduced as a professor at Tel Aviv University and peace activist, Algazi gave an interview (see below) which rejected Israel's right to build a separation fence on grounds of security. To the contrary, Algazi claimed that the fence is there to destroy the livelihood of Palestinian farmers and has nothing to do with security.
Naturally, Algazi has the right to free expression, but given he was interviewed on ABC' s national news where he was introduced as a TAU professor, it would behooved him to provide a more balanced coverage of events. As it is, once again, Algazi chose to provide a most biased and twisted "narrative."
The response of the Technion to the petition states that many universities in the world are engaged in projects that have security applications yet they are not routinely targeted.
That the Technion is singled out is part of a strategy of double standards by which Israeli institutions of higher learning are judged.
Petition demands university breaks ties with Technion
January 11, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
An online petition has been created demanding that the University of Sydney cuts ties with the Technion in Israel.
The invitation to sign the petition has been made by “Ailin” and “Adam” on behalf of Students for Justice in Palestine (USyd) and contains the words ” Support Dr Jake Lynch’s Academic Boycott of Israel and End Collaboration with the criminal Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.”
Signatures appearing on their invitation include:
Students for Justice in Palestine, University of Sydney
Antony Loewenstein, independent journalist and author
Mary Kostakidis, Convener of the Peace Prize jury and co-winner of the University of Sydney Alumni Award for Community Achievement
Jake Lynch, Associate Professor and Director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
Dr Nick Riemer, Senior Lecturer, English and Linguistics departments, University of Sydney
Dr Tim Anderson, Senior Lecturer in Political Economy, University of Sydney
Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees AM, Chair, Sydney Peace Foundation
Honorary Professor John Docker, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry
Frank Stilwell, Professor Emeritus in Political Economy, University of Sydney
Dr Evan Jones, Honorary Associate in Political Economy, University of Sydney
Dr Ken Macnab, President, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney
Cathy Peters, ex-councillor for Marrickville
Fiona Byrne, ex-mayor of Marrickville
University of Sydney Greens on Campus Society
Dr Michael Grewcock, Lecturer, University of New South Wales
They have demanded
i) That the University Senate, Senior Executive Group (SEG) and Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence immediately establish a policy to end all existing and further academic, research and student exchange relationships with the Technion.
ii) That the the University Senate, Senior Executive Group (SEG), Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence, Professor Bruce Robinson, Dean of Sydney Medical School and Professor Merrilyn Walton Associate Dean (International), Sydney Medical School and Director of the Office for Global Health immediately end the current partnership between the Technion and the University of Sydney Health Faculties.
In their release they state
“We the undersigned would like to express our support for Associate Professor Jake Lynch’s recent refusal to assist Israeli academic Dan Avnon of Hebrew University. Lynch is director of the University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS). To accept Avnon’s proposed fellowship between the institutions would have violated the CPACS’s official commitment to the international Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign which includes a boycott of institutional links with Israeli universities.
BDS is not an “extreme” or “radical” policy as has been made out in The Australian’s coverage of the boycott and university management’s attempts to distance themselves from it. Israel is a state that systematically defies international law. It has occupied Palestinian territories in defiance of the UN Security Council for over 40 years, expanding illegal settlements. The International Court of Justice condemned Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank as “illegal” in 2004 and a UN investigation of the 2009 Gaza war condemned Israel for “grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention” in targeting civilians. In November 2012 Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, “Pillar of Cloud”, killed 157 Palestinians including dozens of children. Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of civilians was described as a “war crime” by Human Rights Watch and was immediately followed by Israel announcing plans to build 1500 new settlement homes on illegally occupied Palestinian land.
The Vice Chancellor Michael Spence argues that the Australian Government’s diplomatic relations with Israel make the university boycott “inappropriate”. However, it is the failure of such local and international foreign policy to seriously challenge Israel’s disregard for international law that makes the BDS necessary. It is a non-violent and effective way to help end Israeli impunity and move towards the realisation of the Palestinians’ rights. The target of the CPACS’s boycott could not be more appropriate. The Hebrew University is clearly implicated in the illegal occupation with internationally recognised Palestinian land stolen for its Mount Scopus campus.
The CPAC’s stance has made clear that the University of Sydney’s institutional partnerships should not come at the expense of Palestinians’ human rights. It is thus troubling to observe the strong relationship between the University of Sydney and the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology. The Technion, through its ties to arms manufacturing and development, is an Israeli university uniquely and directly implicated in war crimes.The Technion’s research history includes the development of the remote control D9 bulldozer used to demolish Palestinian homes in violation of the Geneva Conventions and it has strong links to Elbit Systems – the company that produces technology for the apartheid wall declared illegal by the International Court of Justice.”
J-Wire was told by Sydney University that Dr Spence was currently on leave.
Technion fires back
January 15, 2013
The executive director of the Technion Society of Australia’s NSW division has responded to the petition calling for the University of Sydney to end its relationship with the the Technion in Israel.
The following is the statement released by the TSA.
The proponents of the BDS boycott of the Technion at Sydney University (Friday 11/1/13) once again demonstrate their predilection for biased, emotional rhetoric when calling for Sydney University to break its ties with the Technion.
Thankfully, the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Michael Spence, his leadership team and indeed the vast majority of his staff are more concerned with academic excellence, scientific endeavour for the benefit of humanity as a whole and most importantly the facts.
To say that the Technion is “uniquely and directly implicated in war crimes” is as ludicrous as saying that Sydney University or University of NSW are equally implicated. Most of the world’s leading universities are actively engaged in supporting research that assists in self defence, homeland security and the battle with terrorism.
“The Technion’s contribution to humanity, recognised throughout the world, is manifestly evident,” said Technion Society of Australia Executive Director, Ken Lander.
“We urge all people not to simply comment to friends but to demonstrate their support for the Technion and the principled stance taken by leading universities throughout Australia by joining the Technion Society of Australia. This is a tangible way of saying as individuals that we recognise the tremendous contribution of the Technion,” he said.
“Take research into cancer and degenerative diseases. The discovery of the ubiquiton process in human cells by Nobel Laureates, Distinguished Professors Aaron Ciechanover and Avraham Hershko today underpins much of the progress being made in finding targeted cures for these diseases.
“The bionic nose developed by a young Technion Professor, Hossam Haick (an Israeli Arab) will revolutionise the non-invasive diagnosis of cancer and other disease in the next few years.
The high tech world of internet and electronic data transmission rests on the algorithm developed by Technion Distinguished Professors Ziv and Lempel and made freely available to the world.
“The list just goes on. The awarding of a third Nobel prize in 2011 to Distinguished Professor Dan Shechtman for the discovery of quasicrystals and the naming by the City of New York of the Technion as the winner of an international competition of the world’s top universities re-affirm the Technion’s continuing contribution beyond its own campus,” Mr Lander said.
Gadi Algazi in an Australian ABC radio program IN/VISIBLE PALESTINE
Algazi begins at 22:10 into the program:
"But at the meantime the barrier and the Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank are creating irreversible facts on the ground and growing amid Israelis are worried. One of them is Professor Gadi Algazi a historian at Tel Aviv University and a peace activist:
The wall can be demolished but it is built in an agrarian context, it is not the Berlin Wall which means that within 3 years it can destroy the income and way of life of village communities. Palestinians are directly affected, losing their access to the lands losing access to water, to water wells, losing the possibility to move about, destroying the whole networks of the flow of people and of merchandise, its a system of control, a system of expropriation that is sort of presented as a mean to achieve personal security for Israelis, it has NOTHING to do with it."
ABC Radio National The Night Air, December 9, 2012
NOW ON RADIO NATIONAL
IN/VISIBLE PALESTINE AND SULEIMAN'S JOURNEY
- Peace centre's guests limited to anti-Israeli Jews
One of them, Noam Chomsky, who was singled out for the centre's peace prize, has been feted by Hezbollah on a visit to Lebanon.
He had also at one stage defended writing a preface for a Holocaust denier's book on the spurious grounds that one cannot automatically assume that a Holocaust denier is an anti-Semite.
Another, Ilan Pappe, has been thoroughly discredited for fabricating the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The third, Michael Lerner, promotes anti-Israel bigotry and the fourth, Jeff Halper, favours the Palestinian historical narrative as opposed to that of his own people and country.
Lynch would have had more credence had he invited a well-known pro-Israeli academic to address his centre as a means of providing its audiences with a point of view at variance with an anti-Israel one. On the other hand, that might be contrary to the centre's ethos.
IT is important to keep separate a number of points about the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and its support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The centre's director Jake Lynch has every right to argue for, defend and try to persuade others of his reasons for supporting the BDS campaign.
Academic freedom is not a principle one can simply choose when it pleases you. It applies as much to issues about which there is deep disagreement as it does when there is broad consensus. Universities are the place where difficult issues should be debated respectfully but also in a rigorous and searching way. I defend Lynch's right to do so.
However, it is not the policy of the school in which the centre sits, nor the faculty of arts and social sciences, nor the University of Sydney to support the BDS campaign.
Indeed, I believe the campaign, as it applies to universities, cuts against one of the fundamental roles a university should play in a free society. But I respect the fact that there are different views about the campaign and remain willing to debate with those who think differently.
Duncan Ivison, professor, faculty of arts, Sydney University, NSW