Media engendered hatred reaches into an Australian campus…writes Michael Danby

September 7, 2014 by Michael Danby
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Recently I returned from a trip to Israel in the midst of its latest conflict with Hamas and, as I recently told the Sydney Institute, had seen first-hand the effects that living under a constant barrage of 35,000+ rockets can have on the lives of 5 million Israelis.

How Israel’s democratic society responds to asymmetric warfare is a lesson for all free nation Governments.

postersAlthough I was there for 2 weeks watching CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC, I, like so many, was almost shell-shocked at the grotesque coverage of the Gaza conflict. No Hamas fighters; no firing of Hamas missiles from civilian sites. Merkava tanks vs dead Palestinian babies. But this orchestrated caricature from the Palestinian narrative – what some right-wingers call Pallywood – engendered tremendous anti-Jewish hatred.

Five anti-Israel demonstrations in Melbourne. 200,000 people in the streets of Cape Town. Even here in Australia, outbreaks of anti-Jewish physical violence. A Rabbi, beaten up in a Perth shopping mall. Sydney Jewish school students on a school bus terrified by anti-Jewish louts.

But for me, the worst example of this anti-Jewish violence engendered by the media coverage was the case of Jessica Cornish, Secretary of the La Trobe University Student Union. Ms Cornish is Jewish and has been endangered by verbal and physical clashes.

She was one of three students who voted against an unsuccessful motion to the student council meeting, moved by a communist faction (called Socialist Alternative). The motion they presented made extreme claims about the recent conflict in Gaza.  Because these three Labor students voted against the extreme motion, the SA communists began targeting students, postering all over campus that they support “Genocide of Palestinians”. Cornish was identified as having been on a birthright program.

The Jewish student Ms Cornish, Secretary of the Student Union was particularly targeted. As a result of the posters, she has been verbally attacked on campus with orchestrated members of this pro-Hamas communist group surrounding her and screaming at her. She has been called a “genocidal pig”, “a Zionist piece of shit” and told to “f*ck off” by several of these Socialist Alternative male members who in a cowardly way ganged up on her. The perpetrators of this harassment include Ryan Higginson, Naomi Farmer, Elliot Downes & Shail Shah. You can see some of their Facebook rantings against these students here.  The situation became so bad, she was too scared to attend campus for about a week.

ShailShahI wrote to the La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar, about her situation. He called me back and was rightly pained that Ms Cornish had suffered such emotional distress that she has been avoiding going to University for fear of the bullying & harassment.

It is my understanding  that representations made to the University administration by AUJS have resulted in two mass emails sent to all students; reminding them to observe the spirit of tolerance and harmony on campus; and noting a couple of “isolated incidents” on campus which have not been in this spirit. On Tuesday 12 August one of the students responsible was calling for an “intifada against the Zionists in the student union,” into a speaker system at the centre.

Now as a result of representations, the University will hold disciplinary hearings against the four males who have led the bigoted bullying.

In Australia, in 2014, such anti-Jewish bigotry and harassment shall not pass.


2 Responses to “Media engendered hatred reaches into an Australian campus…writes Michael Danby”
  1. ben Eleijah says:

    Are they being factual, is the real question. One does not support personal harassment. Zionists should openly debate their support of Israel with their opponents. Something they have shied away from for a decade. Let Mr Danby have an open debate with Students for Palestine on the truth about Palestine and defeat them. That will be a great moral and political victory for Zionism.

  2. Paul Winter says:

    It is fine to notice what is happening and to protest politely.

    Why aren’t our leaders organising protests outside the headquarters of the biassed media and at universities? Why isn’t the VC of La Trobe providing security for Ms Cornish and banning SA (Sturm Abteilung?) members from the campus? The gutter bully-boy tactics of Hamas and SI supporters have no place in institutes of liberal education.

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