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BDS Resolution at University of Melbourne Student Union Decried by Australian Jewish Leaders

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avatar by Dion J. Pierre

University Of Melbourne Student Union House. Photo: Polly clip / Wikimedia Commons.

Jewish leaders in Australia this weekend denounced a University of Melbourne Student Union’s (UMSU) motion that endorsed the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, with one group calling the measure “odious.”

According to Australian Jewish News, the motion, “UMSU stands with Palestine — BDS and Solidarity Policy,” was proposed by the union’s People of Color Committee and passed on Friday by just two votes. It has since been criticized for advocating an “armed struggle” against Israel amid a surge of terror attacks on Israeli citizens.

“This deplorable motion uses language we would have expected to have come from Hamas or Hezbollah, as terrorist groups committed to the destruction of Israel, not from the student union of an esteemed centre of learning here in Australia,” Colin Rubenstein, Executive Director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), said on Saturday.

“The motion’s expressed support for the ‘right’ of the Palestinians to engage in self-defense against their occupiers is clearly code for supporting terrorism against Israelis, mainly civilians,” he continued. “It should have no place at all in this country, let alone an institution of higher learning.”

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In a joint statement issued on Friday, the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) and Melbourne University Jewish Students Society (MUJSS) said they are “most disgusted” by the motion’s attempt to define Judaism’s relationship to Zionism, which it called “blatantly antisemitic.”

“The UMSU has no mandate to speak for the Jewish community or what constitutes Judaism,” the groups said. “The movers of the motion did not reach out [to] MUJSS or consult the Jewish community about the views and beliefs of the large Jewish student population at the University of Melbourne.”

Also responding to the news, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) on Sunday urged universities in Australia to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism.

“The fact that the Students Union at the University of Melbourne is captive to the predilections of a small coteries of far-Left ideologues reflects very poorly on students and the university,” ECAJ said.

According to UMSU materials, the union last weighed in on the Mideast conflict in 2009, during Israel’s 22-day war with Hamas in Gaza, when it condemned the Jewish state as well as the Australian government’s support.

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