Yesterday,March 11 2015, Associate professor Jake Lynch, the director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney; an executive member of the Sydney Peace Foundation, secretary general of the International Peace Research Association created a study in conflict of his own making.
Jake Lynch is no stranger to controversy. In November 2012, Lynch declined a request by an Israeli academic, Professor Dan Avnon, to name him as a University of Sydney contact on his application for a Sir Zelman Cowen fellowship, which underwrites exchanges between the University of Sydney and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, citing that he believes in the BDS and therefore was boycotting Israeli universities and academics.
In an exclusive interview, Professor Avnon broke his silence to tell ‘The Australian’ he believed Professor Lynch deserves a “red card” for refusing to sponsor him because the Sydney academic supported the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.
“The fact that academics at the University of Sydney have rallied to my cause doesn’t diminish the severity of Lynch’s attempt to boycott me as a Jewish Israeli academic,” Professor Avnon said.
This is mild compared to what occurred at USYD according to the report from:
Glen Falkenstein the Policy Analyst/Staff Writer at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC)
At a lecture being given by retired British military officer Colonel Richard Kemp, a world-renowned expert on armed conflict, the Middle East and a prolific media commentator, protesters, including Jake Lynch, disrupted a lecture, fighting with security guards, at the University of Sydney.
Colonel Kemp had been invited by the University to speak on “Ethical Dilemmas of Military Tactics” and “Dealing with non-state armed groups,” in light of Australia’s military engagement with non-state actors, including ISIS.
Kemp began his talk with a brief explanation of his career and a joke about England’s cricket loss to Bangladesh on Monday. He went on to discuss non-state militant groups in Ireland and Afghanistan and the obligations of soldiers when engaging with civilians and civilian groups. Before he could go into any detail or discuss any other issues, he was interrupted by over a dozen students bursting into the lecture hall screaming
“Richard Kemp, you can’t hide, you support genocide.”
A demonstrator with a megaphone drowned out any attempts by the moderator to get the lecture back on track. Protestors wrestled with security guards who had asked them to leave and were then forced to remove them. Protestors stood on chairs, began to push students and shout loudly at those who objected to their behaviour.
Professor Jake Lynch, the director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) and an ardent opponent of Israel, shouted in the faces of students, including at a senior officer of the Jewish student union. He then proceeded to stand on chairs and film attendees. Lynch screamed that attempts to remove the protestors was a violent attack on freedom of speech by security guards. When another academic suggested that he ask a question, Lynch responded that was not what this is about, only later opting to ask a question when invited by the Colonel.
One student commented that Kemp “hadn’t even mentioned Israel or Palestine” in the time he had to talk. Another student mentioned that she did not have strong views on either side of this issue, was studying international relations and had come expecting a talk, not an ambush.
After about 20 minutes of shouting, the protestors were finally removed from the hall, having objected loudly to their treatment by the security guards and some others present. Kemp, resuming as if nothing had happened, continued to speak on engagement with non-civilian groups in armed conflict. Concluding his talk, Kemp briefly addressed what he termed a “commercial break.”
“This protest was about my perspective on the IDF… I was in Israel during the 2014 summer conflict and I do believe that the IDF in their attack on Hamas in Gaza… were doing everything they could to protect civilians… People have told me I am wrong, but no one has told me what more steps Israel could take to minimize civilian casualties.”
Students, academics and other interested people had come from all over to hear an expert speak on a topical and important subject. Sydney University academic Professor Suzanne Rutland was present at the event and I spoke to her shortly following its conclusion:
“I feel that the demonstration really showed clearly that the anti-Israel group speaks in slogans without any sort of understanding of the intricacies of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and without any sort of acknowledgement that when they stand there chanting, “free Palestine,” what they mean is the dismantling of the Zionist entity which means genocide against Israel’s Jewish population.”
Professor Rutland said,
“Accusing Israel of committing genocide has no academic basis whatsoever; they even said the Colonel (Kemp) was responsible for genocide. I strongly support legitimate criticism and when we teach about Israel we try to present a critical, balanced voice which is part of academic learning.”
“What I think the demonstration represented was the struggle faced by myself and others on campus who are opposed to Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions. While we try to follow the rules of polite debate, the BDS supporters will often not allow an alternative voice and this is what happened during the lecture.”
“Given the anti-Israel bias on campus we were grateful Dr Gil Merom agreed to chair the function and advertise it to his students.”
The national political director Julian Kowal of AUJS – Australasian Union of Jewish Students released a statement saying:
“AUJS thoroughly condemns the highly aggressive tactics used by the purportedly ‘pro-Palestinian’ protestors to intimidate audience members and impede on their right to listen to a public lecture given by a highly respected expert, who happens to disagree with their view of the world, it was undoubtedly intended to intimidate the largely Jewish student audience and make them feel unwelcome at the University of Sydney.”
AUJS called on the university to “have all options available in deciding how to discipline Professor Lynch”, who it said intimidated Jewish students by hurling verbal abuse and filming them without their permission “after he was repeatedly asked to stop”.
“Many of the Jewish students were traumatised by the highly confronting and violent experience, and will feel unsafe to attend future public lectures and events with the fear of further abuse and we hope that the university will take this complaint seriously and deal with those involved appropriate in order to ensure the safety and security of Jewish students on campus.”
AUJS has registered a formal complaint with the University of Sydney.
A SMALL get-well message to the bollocks of University of Sydney academic Jake Lynch, which we gather got in the way of a pro-Israeli foot during a mid-lecture scuffle yesterday.
They were hanging about, minding their own business, when protesters invaded a talk by retired British military officer Richard Kemp on ethical dilemmas of military tactics and dealing with non-state armed groups. Says Lynch, they “identified themselves as students concerned over the record of Israeli military forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”.
They had a megaphone — back to Lynch — “thus preventing the continuation of the meeting”. Security got involved, it got messy and Lynch, who supports the boycotts, divestments and sanctions campaign against Israel, added his two cents.
Which, we gather, is when his bits copped a kick from someone who felt differently to Lynch. Get well, boys.