Report: Non-Jewish U of Sydney Student Linking Antisemitism, Anti-Zionism Interrupted During Presentation, Given Low Grade
A University of Sydney student was prevented from completing a Holocaust-studies presentation highlighting links between modern antisemitism and anti-Zionism, the Australian Jewish News (AJN) reported on Thursday.
According to the report, halfway through the presentation by the non-Jewish student, the class tutor interrupted and said, “We don’t want people to get the wrong idea about you.”
AJN reported that the student, who believes the low grade he received was the result of expressing his opinion, has since pulled out of the course.
Vic Alhadeff, CEO of NSW (New South Wales) Jewish Board of Deputies, told AJN, “It’s outrageous that a student would be warned against creating a link between modern antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment.”
“Not only is this a suppression of valid discourse, but it’s academically dishonest and denies the fundamental truth that such a link exists,” he said.
Matthew Lesh, a research fellow and free speech expert at the Australian think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, slammed the tutor’s actions as “disgraceful,” telling AJN, “Students should be free to express their views in class, not interrupted and punished.”
“This incident is sadly just another disturbing attack on freedom of speech on campus,” he said, describing universities as turning into “closed intellectual workshops, where only certain ideas are allowed to be expressed and the rest are silenced.”
Responding to the student’s claim, a spokesman for the University of Sydney told AJN that the institution is “extremely concerned” by the incident, “and would like to investigate this matter further.”
The university “does not seek to avoid politics in lectures, but rather to engage students in constructive, informed debate that presents any issue, including political issues, from a variety of perspectives,” the spokesman added.
The University of Sydney recently made headlines after students reported lecturers were comparing Australian conservative politicians to Nazis. According to Australia’s Daily Telegraph, the lecturers also likened the Australian government’s handling of refugees to Nazi policies on murdering the mentally ill.
According to an Institute of Public Affairs audit, freedom of speech is “under serious threat” across Australian universities. 79 percent of Australian universities were found to “substantially restrict speech” and have “taken actions that limits the diversity of ideas.”
These issues are not unique to Australia. As reported by The Algemeiner, an increasing number of Jewish students in the United States are seeing their civil rights infringed upon and are “coming under systematic attack.”
According to a startling report by American campus watchdog the AMCHA Initiative, activities aimed at suppressing Jewish students’ freedom of speech and assembly doubled in 2016, compared to the same time period in 2015.