University of Melbourne’s Students’ Union passes motion supporting Palestine and BDS

April 29, 2022 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) has strongly condemned the motion which was passed 10-6.

University of Melbourne

The supporters of the motion were mostly students representing the far-left Grindies and some ‘independents’. Students representing the ALP left and Right factions all voted against this motion.

AUJS President Natalie Gunn said “The motion egregiously misrepresents Jewish students’ beliefs, falsifies history, misconstrues Zionism and incites hate. It is blatantly antisemitic.”

The motion controversially states: “Judaism or Zionism are not to be conflated”.

“It’s bad enough that the movers of the motion try to airbrush 3,500 years of Jewish history in Israel out of the picture. But for these people to purport to speak for the Jewish people or Jewish students or what constitutes Judaism is outrageous in its ignorance, condescension and dishonesty”, Ms Gunn said.

“Also objectionable is the explicit support for the BDS movement, specifically the call for an academic boycott of staff, institutions and organisations, and other Jewish voices from spaces on campus where they should feel free to express their diverse and nuanced perspectives. The BDS movement normalises the targeting of Jewish students for their inherent historical, cultural and religious connection to the land of Israel.”

Drew Feiglin, the President of the University of Melbourne Jewish Students Society (MUJSS) said “The movers of the motion did not reach out to MUJSS nor did they consult us about the views and beliefs of the large Jewish student population at the University of Melbourne. Similarly, the throwaway line about standing in solidarity with Jewish students is insultingly hypocritical and tokenistic, given there was no attempt to hear the experiences and opinions of Jewish students.”

Mr Feiglin also noted that the People of Colour committee who moved the motion had only last year pledged to promote welfare, provide a safe space and fight against racism for the Jewish student population by including Jewish students in their definition.

“AUJS commends those who acknowledged the blatant antisemitism of this motion and voted against it. We look forward to working closely with these councillors to ensure the UMSU upholds its values and ensures the council is reflective of all minority and diverse students. Melbourne University should be a place for nuance and dialogue, not hate speech.”

Peter Wertheim, co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said: “The fact that the Students Union at the University of Melbourne is captive to the predilections of a small coterie of far-Left ideologues reflects very poorly on students and the university. Resolutions of this nature illustrate why there is an urgent need for Universities to adopt and apply the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism”.

The motion:

In the late 1800s, Political Zionism was born to establish a Jewish home in Historic Palestine, disregarding the Indigenous Palestinians living there. This colonial project has led to the establishment of the state of Israel, the blockade of Gaza and the occupa#on of the West Bank through massacres, forced expulsion and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Israel has been deemed as a se8ler colonial apartheid state. It continuously denies the native Palestinians of their right to self-determination, freedom, dignity and equality. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges ac#on to pressure Israel to comply with interna#onal law.

With the recent bombing of Gaza, Israel has carried out a police raid at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Israeli forces have detained 500+ and injured 170+ Palestinians in Jerusalem since the beginning of Ramadan. These Palestinians were simply congrega#ng and praying at the mosque, which is one of the few remaining public spaces for Pales#nians in Jerusalem.

Students in Palestine and around the world have been key par#cipants in the fight against the illegal occupation of Palestine, protesting, organizing, and creating a discussion on respective campuses. Many student unions and associations across Europe, North America, and Australia have formally endorsed BDS or some version of solidarity, it’s long overdue for a clear and firm stance by UMSU on these crimes.

Policy, UMSU stances and actions:

General Stance:
UMSU stands against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and condemns the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians

UMSU supports the self-determina#on of the Palestine people and their right to engage in self-defence against their occupiers

UMSU deems Zionism as a racist, colonial ideologyUMSU rejects Israel’s continued settlement, expansion, and annexation of Palestinian land

UMSU condemns the Australian government’s support for Israel and its ongoing crimes including occupation, settlement, expansion, and ethnic cleansing.

UMSU condemns any and all forms of antisemitism against students of the Jewish faith and stands in solidarity with Jewish students.

UMSU recognises that Israel’s actions are not representative of the Jewish community. Similarly, Israel’s crimes are its responsibility alone and not that of Jewish people worldwide.

UMSU strongly endorses that Judaism and Zionism are not to be conflated as one

Academic Boycott:

UMSU supports the academic boycott movement of Israeli institutions

UMSU calls on the university to participate in an academic boycott and cut ties with Israeli institutions, researchers, and academics that support the Israeli oppression of Palestinians

Divestment Actions and support:

UMSU calls on the university to divest from corporations complicit in and profit from the Israel apartheid

Direct the CEO to update the UMSU ethical register and boyco8 companies that support and profit from the Israeli apartheid in line with the BDS Australia organization guidelines.

UMSU publishes a statement prepared by the UMSU POC department and relevant student groups announcing this policy and its support for Pales#nian rights.

To direct the General Secretary to update the UMSU stance booklet to reflect this policy and subsequent vote on it.

To direct the President and POC officer to send a letter of support to the Australian Centre for International Justice affirming UMSU’s support for Pales#ne on behalf of UMSU.

Comments

7 Responses to “University of Melbourne’s Students’ Union passes motion supporting Palestine and BDS”
  1. David Zyngier says:

    It is interesting that the University administration was able call this motion “antisemitic” without endorsing or adopting the IHRA working definition. As I have previously argued organisations don’t need to formally adopt definitions either the Jerusalem Declaration, NEXUS or IHRA to use them!

  2. Adrian Jackson says:

    Like it or not that is what sometimes happens in a real democracy.

  3. David Glanz says:

    As a Jew, I find the UMSU statement to be balanced and reasonable. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have declared with good reason that Israel operates as an apartheid regime.

    Not only is Zionism a 19th century nationalist movement — in other words, a movement born of capitalist modernism, not of theology — but it was opposed by the majority of Ashkenazi Jews in Eastern Europe, including many of my family members.

    I look forward to a single secular state in historic Palestine, open to all whether Muslims, Jewish, Christian or atheist, based on the democratic principle of the return of Palestinian refugees and one person one vote.

    • David Zyngier says:

      David the Jews are also Indigenous to Palestine and have had a continued presence in the Land for over 3000 years. To deny this is a-historical. Political Zionism is like all other nationalist movements and is no different to the various trends and tendencies within the Palestinian Liberation Movement – also a modern nationalist movement. Don’t forget there is a reason why we Jews say every year at the end of the Seder “Next year in Jerusalem”.

    • Jill says:

      Israel is already open to all and all are permitted to worship – except Jews on their holiest site the Temple Mount.
      Your fatuous comment is based, like the BDS motion, on malice and ignorance of basic Jewish history and the reality of Islamic jihad.

  4. Liat Kirby says:

    Terrible that it has come to this. The University of Melbourne, a prestigious Australian institution of learning, having as part of that institution a student union as biased and bitter as this motion reflects. These Melbourne University students reflect in the wording of their motion gross ignorance of history and of the meaning of the word Zionism. I wonder with the kind of mindset displayed here, if the students have the capacity for learning that a University demands. I think not.

  5. Naomi B. says:

    It is obscene that this establishment calls itself a UNIVERSITY!
    …and since they are all for BDS.. Please do relinquish your mobile phones ( as they all have Israeli components) most of your laptops, a multitude of medications and cures and so many other things without which your petty lives would not be half as good!
    No pick and choose for ill informed uneducated morons!

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