Bad start at universities

March 4, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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Jewish students have faced renewed harassment and intimidation from extremists during the recent orientation week on campuses across Australia.

aujsThe newly re-formed Jewish Students’ Society at the Australian National University (ANU) confronted significant abuse during the Market Day clubs and societies event.

A paper airplane was thrown at the Jewish Students’ Society stall. On one side the paper contained a Socialist Alternative petition, and on the other the message: ‘Death to the Zionist entity. Love from Hamas’. This note supports Hamas, a proscribed terrorist organisation, in their antisemitic violent aims to kill all Jews. Moreover, following various refusals to take pamphlets by Jewish students on the day, extremists responded ‘that’d be right, Israeli bitch’, and ‘filthy Jew’.

At the University of New South Wales (UNSW) a Jewish student was harassed last week during orientation week. Upon seeing his Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) bag two individuals approached asking why he was a member of AUJS. When asked the two individuals said they were from the Socialist Alternative. When the Jewish student immediately begun walking away the two extremists followed him yelling various questions and points of abuse. This continued until a third party stepped in to say the Jewish student was clearly not interested.

The ANU and UNSW administration are both currently investigating these incidents.

The renewed harassment follows various incidents with extremists on campus in recent years.

At Monash University in 2013 an extremist physically shoved two Jewish students who were putting up posters one evening. Extremists at Monash University have also routinely undertaken aggressive protests and harassment of Jewish students around campus and during apolitical events.

At the University of Melbourne in 2011 a Jewish student was cut on the hand when he tried to stop an extremist from destroying some wire from a sound system during an event. In this case the extremist was arrested.

AUJS political affairs director Matthew Lesh said that this ongoing harassment shows a clear pattern of antisemitic behaviour on campus from extremist groups.

“Rather then attempt to partake in a civilised political dialogue extremists on campus have resorted to identifying and harassing individual Jewish students,” Mr Lesh said.

Mr Lesh called upon universities to institute compulsory multicultural and interfaith understanding courses for any student or group who has been identified as abusing Jewish students.

“Universities have a responsibility to create a safe and secure atmosphere for students of all backgrounds. To ensure this universities must respond strongly to individuals and groups who spread intimidation, hatred, and abuse,” Mr Lesh said.

Students who face incidents on campus are encouraged to report them immediately through the new website,, a joint project of AUJS and the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission.

Peter Wertheim

Peter Wertheim

Peter Wertheim,  executive director of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, told J-Wire: “The spate of racist incidents against Jewish students on campuses at the Australian National University, the University of NSW and the University of Adelaide, are a disgraceful reflection of the deterioration that has occurred in the prevailing culture of student and academic life not only in Australia but also at many universities throughout the western world.  The nature of the hostility and the epithets directed against Jewish students are unambiguously antisemitic.   The veneer of anti-Zionism is wearing increasingly thin.    The student organisations that spawn this sort of behaviour will have to get over their narcissistic belief in their own infallibility and do some serious soul-searching. The same applies to the handful of academics who conceive of their role as advocates for an anti-Israel agenda rather than as scholars engaged in rigorous and dispassionate research and analysis.”

Christopher Pyne   Photo: Henry Benjamin

Christopher Pyne                                      Photo: Henry Benjamin

J-Wire posed questions to Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne. We received the responses from a spokesman.

JW:  What actions have been taken by the minister to assure the Jewish community that universities will take effective measures to minimalise antisemitic incidents on the nation’s campuses?

Response: The Minister has called on universities to step in and take a very firm line against racism and antisemitism on campus. Free speech in Australia does not extend to threats, intimidation and physical harassment. Incidents such as these have no place on campus or anywhere else.

JW: Has he been in touch with specific universities on this matter…?

Response: The Minister’s office has been in touch with the universities where incidents have reportedly occurred to convey his view.

JW: Is he satisfied that the universities will do all they can to deal with this problem?

The Minister is confident universities will do all they can to address his concerns.





3 Responses to “Bad start at universities”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    Shame on the student extremists for their abhorrent behaviour. They show themselves as ignorant, vicious, intellectual thugs. Those caught being involved in these acts should be forced to undertake a Jewish history course, as well as be educated as to the real situation existing in the Middle East, in all its complexity and in context.

  2. David says:

    The end of this article doesn’t make sense….

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