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July 31, 2013 3:04 pm

Landmark Class Action Suit Filed in Australia Against Sydney BDS Advocating Prof

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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The Hezbollah flag at the rally in Australia, in February, 2013. Photo: Australian Syrian Youth Organization via Facebook.

The Hezbollah flag at the rally in Australia, in February, 2013. Photo: Australian Syrian Youth Organization via Facebook.

A landmark class action suit was filed on Wednesday in an Australian court, for the first time applying the country’s anti-racism laws to protecting Israel from boycott, divestment and sanctions activity, Israeli civil rights group Shurat HaDin said in a statement.

Shurat HaDin said the suit, filed by the organization’s Australian solicitor Alexander Hamilton with the Australian Human Rights Commission, fell under the country’s Racial Discrimination Act of 1975.

The specific complaint was against faculty and students at Sydney University for calling for the severing of links with Israeli institutions, actions that would be deemed racist and in violation of Australian Federal anti-discrimination laws.

The university’s student body endorsed Associate Professor Jake Lynch’s academic boycott of Israel after Lynch announced his refusal to work with Dan Avnon, an Israeli professor from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He also called for a boycott of Technion University in Haifa.

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Last month, Shurat HaDin warned Lynch of the potential legal action. Although widely condemned by many mainstream politicians and community figures, Lynch has also been publically supported by notorious Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben.

In its letter sent to the Australian commission, Shurat HaDin pointed out that the Federal Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 made it unlawful for anyone “to do any act involving a distinction, exclusion…or preference based on race…or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose…of nullifying or impairing…fundamental freedom in the…economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”

The complaint also noted that any boycott of Israeli “settlement products,” including those from companies like SodaStream or Ahava, actually would harm Palestinian economic interests due to the fact that the factories employ many Palestinian workers and provide an important source of income for local families and villages.

“The BDS movement is racist by its own definition because it seeks to discriminate and impose adverse preference based on Israeli national origin and Jewish racial and ethnic origin of people and organisations. It does nothing to help Palestinians and indeed harms them. It is merely an excuse for the vilest public anti-semitic campaign the western world has seen since the Holocaust,” said solicitor Andrew Hamilton.

itsana Darshan-Leitner, Shurat Hadin director added that “By singling out Israel and no other country the BDS extremists expose the anti-Semitism that motivates them. We are hopeful that this historic proceeding against the BDS movement will serve as a model for battling it in other jurisdictions worldwide.”

Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center – was founded on the model of the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center – a non-profit legal center that over the last four decades has successfully confronted racist groups across the United States.

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  • Harvey

    Hit them . Hit them hard in the pocket and publicise it .
    This has never been about 2 state solutions . This is about the dismantlement of Israel and its replacement by a Palestinian ‘ from the river to the sea ‘ .
    # BDS fail @ # BDS thugs

  • Rotem

    BDS-Holes – who are they?

    1. Radical Left Wing people, who know nothing about the subjects they protesting for and are also Antisemitic people, who cover their hatred to Jews, by hatred to Israel (what’s the difference?)

    2. Radical Islamic activists, who hates anything which has to do with the Western Culture (except the national insurance compensations…)

    Between these two groups there’s nothing in common, except their baseless, blind hatred for Jews.

  • Fred

    Good for you. BDS is the newspeak for rabid anti Semitism. Europe should follow Australia’s example but
    Europe & USA have exchanged the old anti Semitism with BDS. Its eases their guilt by reverting to the old hate slogans Jews-Israel one and the same now BDS..

  • BlueShadowII

    Shurat HaDin ought to reconsider casting itself as having been “founded on the model of the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center”. The SPLC has earned a reputation as being more racist than its targets.

  • Lynne T

    Unbelievable that of all institutions, the BDS hypocrit refuses to work with a professor from Technion:

    “I spoke to Arab Muslim undergraduates at Haifa’s Technion University during my visit in May this year. Arab undergraduates (most of whom are Muslim with a smaller Christian representation) lead a program to remove barriers to success of fellow Arab undergraduates there. Professor Daoud Bshouty, Dean of Undergraduate Studies (and both Israel’s and Technion’s first Christian Arab faculty member) and Sara Katzir, former Israeli Airforce officer and head of the Beatrice Weston Unit for the Advancement of Students, explained the origin of the program, joined by Assistant Professor Youseff Jabareen, an Arab Israeli Muslim graduate, and the Muslim undergraduate Maysoun Hindawi, who related their own experiences as minorities.

    When, eight years ago, the Technion examined their own data, they were dismayed to find a high drop-out rate amongst Arab undergraduates, even though they had met the rigorous entry criteria to a university consistently rated amongst the top three science institutes in the world. This was an untenable loss of intellectual talent for the university and in their mind, for Israel.

    Since then, the Beatrice Weston Unit for the Advancement of Students has developed one-on-one peer mentorship by and for Israeli Arab undergraduates, with men mentoring men and women mentoring women in view of the cultural sensitivities. The program was funded by Jewish American philanthropists intent on serving all sectors of Technion’s students, majority and minority alike.

    In less than a decade, the Weston Advancement Unit has improved the Technion’s Israeli Arab undergraduate retention rate by over 50 percent, with more gains likely. But The Technion’s support extends beyond their undergraduates. Many Israeli Arabs attend Arabic medium schools, so the move to the Hebrew-language university is a significant challenge. In response, candidates identified as Technion material are given intense year-long programs preparing them (and their Hebrew) – developed by the university itself.”

    Read the whole article by Dr. Qanta Ahmed, a Pakistani Muslim who also compares what it was like for her to study in Saudi Arabia vs. Israel:

    http://elderofziyon.blogspot.ca/2013/07/a-withering-takedown-of-academic-bds-by.html

    • Thank you Lynne for the informative post. The url provides additional data and enables tweeting, so thanks for that too!

      Agree with all the comments already posted. About bloody time!!

  • Leon

    Shalom Israel Standing with you !!!

  • Efram Paul

    Way to go Australia! The rest of the world should learn by your example.

  • Lindy

    Hooray for Alexander Hamilton and the Aussies!! If only the US would have the guts to follow suit..literally and figuratively.

  • I am very glad to see that a stand has been made against the BDS influence happening in Australian Universities.

    The BDS stands for annihilation of the Jewish State completely, by bringing back millions of Palestinians from around the world to have only a Palestinian State.

    If this is to be the basis for Peace talks then peace will never happen.

  • Jill Schaeffer

    Finally, BDS zealots are rightfully called anti-semites and fall under the same standards as everyone else. By singling out Israel and no other country, the BDS folks are what indeed we always knew them to be: anti-semites.

    Good. More of that

  • Jack

    Let us see how the antisemites squirm under lawfare.

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