Israeli Civil Rights Group files Federal Class Action Racism Lawsuit Against Australian Academic

October 31, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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An Israeli civil rights group, Shurat HaDin, has filed a class action lawsuit under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 with the Federal Court of Australia over a Sydney University Associate Professor Jake Lynch’s participation and public support of boycotts of Israel including an academic boycott of Israeli universities.

Akiva Hamilton

Akiva Hamilton

Earlier this year, faculty and students at Sydney University called for the severing of links with Israeli institutions, actions that would be deemed racist and in violation of Australian Federal anti-discrimination laws.

This lawsuit follows up Shurat HaDin’s complaint against Associate Professor Lynch filed with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in late July. Lynch effectively refused to mediate this complaint and thus the AHRC was unable to resolve it. The complaint was terminated by the AHRC allowing Shurat HaDin to pursue the matter in Federal Court.

The lawsuit filed by Shurat HaDin’s Australian solicitor Andrew Hamilton is the first time that a Federal Court lawsuit under the Racial Discrimination Act has been launched in Australia against those promoting boycotts, sanctions and divestment (BDS) against the Jewish State. It is the first time that Australia’s anti-racism laws have been utilized against those seeking to harm Israeli academics or businesses because of their national origin.

In its Federal lawsuit, Shurat HaDin relies on the Federal Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 which makes it unlawful for anyone “to do any act involving a distinction, exclusion…or preference based on race…or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose…of nullifying or impairing…fundamental freedom in the…economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”

Earlier this year, the university’s student body endorsed Associate Professor Jake Lynch’s academic boycott of Israel. Lynch had publicly announced his refusal to work with Dan Avnon, an Israeli professor from the prestigious Hebrew University in Jerusalem, which promotes Israeli-Arab coexistence, and also called for a boycott of Technion University in Haifa.

Lynch has consistently refused to heed the Tel Aviv-based rights group’s warnings that he must cease participation in unlawful, and racist, boycott activity. Although widely condemned by mainstream politicians and community figures, Lynch has also been publicly supported by notorious Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben.

Associate Professor Jake Lynch

Associate Professor Jake Lynch

The BDS movement has been recognized as anti-Semitic by leading authorities such as the Anti-Defamation League in the United States, and in a report recently released by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

According to solicitor Andrew Hamilton: “The BDS movement is racist by its own definition because it seeks to discriminate and impose adverse preference based on Israeli national origin and Jewish racial and ethnic origin of people and organisations. It does nothing to help Palestinians and indeed harms them. It is merely an excuse for the vilest public anti-semitic campaign the western world has seen since the Holocaust.”

According to Shurat HaDin director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner: “Lynch and his ilk seek to boycott Israeli and Jewish national products, whether its goods, services, performers or professors. By singling out Israel and no other country the BDS extremists expose the anti-Semitism that motivates them. We are hopeful that this historic proceeding against the BDS movement will serve as a model for battling it in other jurisdictions worldwide.”

Shurat HaDin’s Akiva Hamilton told J-Wire: “We have made it quite clear to the BDS activists where the line between their own freedom of expression and racial discrimination that infringes other peoples human rights (including freedom of expression and academic freedom) lies.

 This was posted on the Facebook page of the Sydney Uni BDS activists.
WARNING NOTICE TO BDS ACTIVISTS FROM THE ISRAEL LAW CENTER
Criticism of and protest regarding the policies of the Israeli government are perfectly legal.
When that protest extents to boycotting Israeli businesses and professors whose only connection to the Israeli government is that Israel is their national origin, that is unlawful racial discrimination.
When those protests extend to intimidation of Israelis and Jews, that is unlawful racial discrimination.
It is lawful to criticise Japan’s policies. It is not lawful to boycott Japanese people and businesses because of disagreement with those policies.
It is lawful to criticise India’s policies. It is not lawful to boycott Indian people and businesses because of disagreement with those policies.
It is lawful to criticise Israel’s policies. It is not lawful to boycott Israeli people and businesses because of disagreement with those policies.
If you keep on the right side of this line you will not be prosecuted.”
The complaint from Shurat HaDin:

Details of claim under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 and Part IVA of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976

  1. On the grounds set out below, the Applicants claim that the Respondent has engaged inunlawful discrimination against them and the group members described below.
  2. The Respondent has actively participated in and publicly supported the global movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel related persons and organisations in the business, academic and cultural spheres (BDS movement or BDSM)
  3. The Respondent has publicly announced that he would not work with Professor Dan Avnon from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel because of the Respondent’s participation in and support of the BDS movement.
  4. The Respondent has publicly called for the boycott of Technion University in Haifa, Israel because of the Respondent’s participation in and support of the BDS movement.
  5. The BDS movement advertises and conducts campaigns which involve distinction, exclusion, restriction and preference based on the Israeli national and ethnic origin of goods, services, persons and organisations.
  6. The BDS movement advertises and conducts campaigns which involve distinction, exclusion, restriction and preference based on the Jewish race, descent, national and ethnic origin of goods, services, persons and organisations.
  7. In particular the BDS movement advertises and conducts campaigns to encourage consumers to refuse to acquire the goods and services of companies which are (or are perceived to be) of both Israeli and Jewish origin, ownership or control.
  8. In particular the BDS movement advertises and conducts campaigns to interfere and discourage the acquisition by consumers of goods and services of companies which are (or are perceived to be) of both Israeli and Jewish origin, ownership or control.
  9. In particular the BDS movement advertises and conducts campaigns to encourage investment companies to divest from companies which are (or are perceived to be) of both Israeli and Jewish origin, ownership or control.
  10. In particular the BDS movement advertises and conducts campaigns to encourage trading companies to refuse to supply goods and services to or acquire goods and services from companies which are (or are perceived to be) of both Israeli and Jewish origin, ownership or control.
  11. In particular the BDS movement advertises and conducts campaigns to encourage artists, performers and other providers of cultural services to refuse to supply goods and services (particularly live concerts) to Israeli consumers.
  12. In particular the BDS movement advertises and conducts campaigns to encourage academics and academic institutions to refuse to cooperate with, engage in academic exchanges with and exchange information with academics and academic institutions

which are (or are perceived to be) of both Israeli and Jewish origin, ownership or control.

  1. The Respondent has actively participated in and publicly supported the campaigns referred to in paragraphs 5 and 6 and particularised in paragraphs 7 to 12.
  2. The Respondent has conducted training sessions for BDSM activists to advance the campaigns referred to in paragraphs 5 and 6 and particularised in paragraphs 7 to 12.
  3. The Respondent, by virtue of his various activities specified in paragraphs 2, 3, 4, 13 and 14 above, has done acts which involve distinction, exclusion, restriction and preference based on the Israeli national and ethnic origin of goods, services, persons and organisations.
  4. The Respondent, by virtue of his various activities specified in paragraphs 2, 3, 4, 13 and 14 above, has done acts which involve distinction, exclusion, restriction and preference based on the Jewish race, descent, national and ethnic origin of goods, services, persons and organisations.
  5. The BDS movement’s inherent purpose is to do acts involving adverse distinction, exclusion, restriction and adverse preference based on the Israeli national and ethnic origin of goods, services, persons and organisations.
  6. The BDS movement’s inherent purpose is to do acts involving adverse distinction, exclusion, restriction and adverse preference based on the Jewish race, descent, national and ethnic origin of goods, services, persons and organisations.
  7. The Respondent’s inherent purpose in participating and publicly supporting the BDS movement is to do acts involving adverse distinction, exclusion, restriction and adverse preference based on the Israeli national and ethnic origin of goods, services, persons and organisations.
  8. The Respondent’s inherent purpose in participating and publicly supporting the BDS movement is to do acts involving adverse distinction, exclusion, restriction and adverse preference based on the Jewish race, descent, national and ethnic origin of goods, services, persons and organisations.
  9. The Respondent has engaged in the activity specified in paragraphs 2, 3, 4, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19 & 20 above with the purpose of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of the human rights and/or fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural fields of those persons and organisations against whom the BDSM campaigns are directed including the Applicants and group members described below.
  10. The Respondent has engaged in the activity specified in paragraphs 2, 3, 4, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19 & 20 above with the effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of the human rights and/or fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural fields of those persons and organisations against whom the BDSM campaigns are directed including the Applicants and group members described below.

23. In particular, the BDSM activities of the Respondent referred to at paragraphs 3, 4 and 12 have the purpose and effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of the following human rights and/or fundamental freedoms of the Applicants and the group members:

  1. the right to education set out in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 5 (e) (v) of the International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (Schedule to Racial Discrimination Act 1975) including:
    1. the requirement that education promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations racial or religious groups, set out in Article 26, paragraph 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
    2. the prohibition on depriving any person or group of persons of access to education at any type or at any level set out in Article 1(a) of the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education;
    3. the right of academic freedom in the arts and sciences set out in Article 13 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights;
  2. the right to freedom of association set out in Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 5 (d) (ix) of the International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (Schedule to Racial Discrimination Act 1975);
  3. the right to freedom of expression set set out in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 5 (d) (viii) of the International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (Schedule to Racial Discrimination Act 1975) including:
    1. the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers set out in Article 19 paragraph 2 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (Schedule 2 to the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986);
    2. the right of academic freedom in the arts and sciences set out in Article 13 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights;
  4. the right to work set out in Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 5 (e) (i) of the International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (Schedule to Racial Discrimination Act 1975).

24. In particular, the BDSM activities of the Respondent referred to at paragraph 11 have the

purpose and effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of the following human rights and/or fundamental freedoms of the Applicants and the group members:

  1. the right to free and equal participation in the cultural life of the community and enjoyment of the arts set out in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 5 (e) (vi) of the International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (Schedule to Racial Discrimination Act 1975);
  2. the right to freedom of expression set out in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 5 (d) (viii) of the International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (Schedule to Racial Discrimination Act 1975) including:

i. the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers either orally, in writing or in print in the form of art or through any other media of choice set out in Article 19 paragraph 2 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (Schedule 2 to the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986);

c. the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association set out in Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 5 (d) (ix) of the International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (Schedule to Racial Discrimination Act 1975);

d. the right to leisure set out in Article 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

25. In particular, the BDSM activities of the Respondent referred to at paragraph 7, 8, 9 and 10 have the purpose and effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of the following human rights and/or fundamental freedoms of the Applicants and the group members:

a. the right to work set set out in Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 5 (e) (i) of the International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (Schedule to Racial Discrimination Act 1975) including:

  1. the right to pursue material well-being in conditions of freedom and dignity of economic security and equal opportunity set out in the preamble of the Convention concerning Discrimination in respect of Employment and Occupation ((Schedule 1 to the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986);
  2. the freedom to conduct a business in accordance with law set out in Article 16 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights;

b. the right to freedom from attacks on honour and reputation set out in Article 12 of

the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in Article 17 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (Schedule 2 to the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986).

  1. In particular, the Respondents involvement in the activities of the BDS movement in targeting Israeli and Jewish persons and organisations for “boycott, divestment and sanction” offend the fundamental rights and principles embodied in Article 4 of International Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (Schedule to Racial Discrimination Act 1975) which:
    1. “condemn all propaganda and all organizations … which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form”; and
    2. call for State parties to “declare illegal and prohibit organizations, and also organized and all other propaganda activities, which promote and incite racial discrimination, and shall recognize participation in such organizations or activities as an offence punishable by law”. (Article 4 paragraph b)
  2. The Applicants are affected persons in relation to  the original complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

A hearing has been set down for November 27 in the Federal Court of Australia, NSW.

 

Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center is an organization dedicated to enforcing basic human rights through the legal system and represents victims of terrorism in courtrooms around the world. The group was founded on the model of the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center – a non-profit legal center that over the last four decades has successfully confronted racist groups across the United States.

 

Comments

3 Responses to “Israeli Civil Rights Group files Federal Class Action Racism Lawsuit Against Australian Academic”
  1. ben eleijah says:

    Shurat Din has lifted a rock and will probably drop it on its own foot unless it backs down. At least 2000 persons, including Israeli Jeff Halper, have impleaded themselves as co-defendants. Let the prosecution examine 2000 defendants and let Halper bring in his first hand knowledge of Israel’s activities in the West bank and Gaza to public attention.

  2. Paul Winter says:

    Congratulations Shurat HaDin!

    Your actions will make the Uni of Syd law abiding. With any luck, it will lead the federal government to withdraw funds from the uni and make it close down an anti-semitic indoctrination centre which has no place in a university.

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    Jake Lynch brings dishonour to University of Sydney and the faculty in which he works. He is obviously motivated by racism, viz. anti-Semitism, indeed appears obsessed with Israel in the most pernicious of ways. Well done, Shurat HaDin. What an important victory it would be for the findings of the Federal Court of Australia to uphold the brief put by Shurat HaDin in relation to Lynch and the BDS campaign.

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