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Jewish group warns uni on BDS

THE Israeli legal activist group Shurat HaDin has warned Sydney University academics against joining their colleague Jake Lynch in supporting sanctions against Israel, saying they would be “next in the firing line” for a lawsuit.

University staff last week voted overwhelmingly to support Professor Lynch’s right to promote the global Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel, and will consider joining the BDS campaign as a block.

The vote led lawyer Andrew Hamilton, who represents Shurat HaDin in its lawsuit against Professor Lynch, to warn that the ­Israeli organisation would take the academic union to court if it throws its weight behind BDS.

A general meeting of the Sydney University branch of the ­National Tertiary Education Union on Thursday passed a resolution defending Professor Lynch’s “right to exercise his intellectual freedom”, and called on the university to support him “in every way possible”.

The second resolution alleged Israel engaged in “serious and ongoing violation of the Palestinian people’s human rights”, particularly to “study, teach and conduct research”. It called on the union management committee to “open a broad discussion” among the 2000-strong NTEU membership at Sydney University on whether the branch should support the BDS campaign, with a vote to be taken by the end of the year.

But Mr Hamilton warned: “If the NTEU wants to be next in the firing line when Lynch loses then we’re happy to supply the ammunition.”

Nick Riemer, one of the organisers of a new group at the university, Sydney Staff for BDS, said Mr Hamilton’s threat was outrag­eous. “This intimidation is just what’s to be expected from Shurat HaDin, who want to stifle the very political freedoms BDS supporters are committed to defending, whether in Palestine or Australia,” Dr Riemer, a senior lecturer in English, said.

Shurat HaDin last year launched an action in the Federal Court seeking orders that Professor Lynch apologise for advocating BDS.

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