Professor Jake Lynch of Sydney University is the subject of legal proceedings initiated by an Israel-based organisation using allegations of racism in an attempt to criminalise support for BDS. Professor Lynch's refusal to sponsor an Israeli academic's application for a fellowship in Sydney University was based on the Israeli academic's link to the Hebrew University which is complicit with Israel's occupation, militarism and racial oppression.
The Shurat HaDin, the Israeli Law Center, filed a legal suit in the Federal Court of Australia against Professor Jake Lynch in October. BDS is, according to them "racist and discriminatory". The lawsuit focuses on Jake Lynch's refusal to sponsor an application for a fellowship in Australia by the Hebrew University academic Dan Avnon claiming a breach of the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act. Jake Lynch declined to sponsor the application because of his opposition to the fellowship agreement between the two universities given the Hebrew University's complicity in Israel's human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.
The Hebrew University is complicit in Israel's occupation, militarism and racial oppression of the Palestinian people. The university's Mount Scopus campus and dormitories are built on land confiscated from the Palestinians by the Israeli authorities on 1 September 1968, violating the Fourth Geneva Convention. The university is a militarized institution that participates in programs to train elite soldiers in the Israeli army. In 2012 the University prohibited the organization of the fifth Palestinian Cultural Festival; it also allows the police on to the campus to break up peaceful demonstrations by Palestinian students.
Solidarity with the Palestinian struggle must include mutual solidarity with all who are fighting Israel's apartheid and crimes against humanity. The situation in Australia is severe with a government who are pro-Israel at the expense of the Palestinians. This was demonstrated when, in November 2013, the Australian government abstained from voting on a United Nations general assembly resolution which called for an end to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.
Please support Jake Lynch by taking the following action.
If you are an academic please fill in your details in the letter below and send it to the email address supplied; otherwise pass it on to any other academics you know.
This call for support was made by the group Australians for BDS. They also provided the letter of support.
Letter of Support
We the undersigned consider academic freedom to be a fundamental value in all our educational institutions.
We understand that Professor Jake Lynch from the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, at the University of Sydney, refused to sign his name as a reference for Dan Avnon's application for a Hebrew University – University of Sydney Fellowship. In other words, Prof. Lynch refused to support an institutional relationship with an Israeli university that is deeply complicit in violations of human rights and international law.
The Hebrew University has part of its campus built on illegally confiscated Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem; it has close links with the Israel military and arms manufacturer Elbit, and is complicit in several other ways in maintaining the Israeli regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid.
Prof. Lynch refused to support Dan Avnon's application on the basis that Dan Avnon was acting as an official representative of the Hebrew University in seeking to take advantage of the official institutional relationship between the Hebrew University and the University of Sydney. Jake Lynch did not target Dan Avnon as an individual academic, nor did he reject collaboration with Avnon because of Avnon's religion, ethnicity, affiliation or origin. We do not endorse boycotting individual academics based on their ethnicity, religion, political principles or affiliation. We note also that Dan Avnon is not an applicant in the legal action against Jake Lynch.
We uphold Prof. Lynch's freedom of speech, academic freedom, and right to exercise his conscience in refusing to deal with an academic institution that violates international law. Many academics similarly refused to engage with South African universities during apartheid. A unanimous ruling in 2004 of the world's highest authority on international law, the International Court of Justice, established the illegality of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory. This illegality is confirmed by a range of acknowledged experts. The International Court of Justice ruling also established that other states are obligated not to recognise nor support Israel's breaches of international law.
We also condemn the actions of the foreign agency, Shurat HaDin, whose director admits to taking direction from the Israeli government on who to prosecute in their cases and which has deep connections with Israeli intelligence services. We condemn this law firm's attempts to silence Professor Lynch in the Australian Human Rights Commission and in the Australian Federal Court by claiming that his actions contravene the Racial Discrimination Act.
We abhor foreign political interference in the democratic right of an Australian academic to hold opinions that are critical of the State of Israel.
We consent to having our name/s published in support of Professor Jake Lynch.