University of Melbourne Student Union rescinds pro-Palestine resolution

May 26, 2022 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The University of Melbourne Student Union has rescinded the resolution titled ‘UMSU stands with Palestine – BDS and Student Policy’, passed by the council at the end of last month.

University of Melbourne

This decision comes after countless meetings between AUJS and UMSU and the legal action taken by Melbourne University student Justin Riazaty against UMSU for racial discrimination.

In a statement on Facebook, AUJS called on UMSU and other student unions “to ensure that unions represent the viewpoints of all students.  Universities and their student representative bodies should be places for well-informed, nuanced and open dialogue rather than hectoring polemics”.

The statement added: “The original UMSU motion was put forward over the objections of Jewish students. UMSU attempted to define Judaism, Zionism and antisemitism in a way that solely reflects the views of a fringe group of Israel-haters but bears no relationship to the lived experience of the Jewish people.

We simply ask that student unions consult AUJS and relevant Jewish bodies on campus before putting forward motions impacting Jewish students on campus.”

The co-CEO of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Peter Wertheim remarked: “In a major victory against growing antisemitism on Australian campuses, the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) has helped bring about the rescission of an anti-Israel resolution passed in late April by the University of Melbourne Students Union. The resolution was subsequently condemned as antisemitic by the University administration.”

Zionism Victoria stated that the motion “branded Zionism as racist, accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and labelled it an apartheid regime. It also expressed support for the BDS movement and called for an academic boycott of Israel”.

The President of Zionism Victoria Yossi Goldfarb said, “Zionism Victoria congratulates and thanks the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) for its tremendous efforts in achieving this outcome.

Jewish students are on the frontline of the rising tide of antisemitism, and the community should be proud of the incredible work they and their leadership do.

They deserve our utmost support and Zionism Victoria will do all it can to assist them in combatting such egregious motions when they surface.

As AUJS says of this afternoon’s vote, ‘This is an important step to ensuring that dialogue on campus is productive, nuanced and encourages understanding.’”

The Zionist Federation of Australia warns of the hurt caused by this and similar motions.

ZFA President Jeremy Leibler said, “Rescinding the motion is an excellent first step to help heal the wounds the student union caused. We sincerely hope their reason for doing so is because they’ve recognised how bigoted the motion was, and not just because a student threatened legal action.”
However, Mr Leibler expressed concern over the effect of the original motion and the efforts by student unions at other universities to express ‘solidarity’.
He said, “To describe these motions as merely ‘criticising Israel’ is completely disingenuous. These motions redefine Judaism and call for Jews—and Jews alone—to be denied the right to self-determination. For those reasons, these motions are antisemitic and should be condemned.”

Mr Leibler continued, “These student unionists appear unaware or uncaring about the devastating impact their motions are having on Jewish wellbeing on campus. Zionism is Jewish self-determination and emotional connection to homeland. Every ethnic community in Australia has an emotional connection to their homeland. Jews are no different. The overwhelming majority of Jewish students on Australian campuses have an emotional connection to Israel—that is, they are Zionists. To describe Zionism as racism is a racist attempt to deny Jews the right to their own identity. It is extraordinary that in modern Australia one ethnicity is singled out and excluded. If any ethnicity other than Jews were singled out, the very students passing these resolutions would be up in arms in protest.”

AIJAC Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein said, “This was an appalling antisemitic motion that should never have been passed, and it is disappointing that six of the 16 Union Council members still voted against the rescission motion. We hope the rescission was due to the understanding of the motion’s antisemitism and many other flaws, and not just due to the legal challenge.

“We note that, as stated by UMSU President Sophie Nguyen, the rescission motion was to amend the original motion based on consultation. We hope UMSU does genuinely consult, and learn from its mistakes, and that any further motion reflects the standards we would expect from an institution of higher learning, rather than just being a watered-down version of the original disgraceful resolution
“We also urge the student unions of the University of Sydney and the Australian National University, which passed motions in support of the UMSU motion, to reconsider their own stances accordingly,” Dr Rubenstein concluded.


One Response to “University of Melbourne Student Union rescinds pro-Palestine resolution”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    All kudos to AUJS! Such good news. We shouldn’t have to fight this sort of battle in the 21st century, but we do. Yes, the Jewish students deserve all the support we can give them. It is such a relief to see that the university has declared this awful stance taken as antisemitic.

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