Letter from Colonel Richard Kemp to Vice Chancellor USYD.

12 March 2015.

Dear Dr Spence,

I was invited to speak to students at the University of Sydney at lunch time on 11 March 2015, in a session chaired by Dr Gil Merom, one of your senior lecturers. My subject was ethical dilemmas of military operations in relation to recent conflicts. I had intended to engage with students, present my practical experiences as a British military commander and stimulate a discussion.

Shortly after I had introduced my talk, covering the principles of necessity, proportionality and discrimination as they apply under the laws of armed conflict and giving examples from my experience in Northerrn Ireland and
Afghanistan, the event was disrupted by the forceful entry of a group of students.

They entered the room aggressively and noisily. They had a loud speaker set at full volume into which one of the students was screaming abuse directed at me. The other students were chanting the same abusive words and some were waving banners and placards. They were shouting: “Richard Kemp, you can’t hide, you support genocide”. This group was joined in their chants by a few in the audience who had apparently positioned themselves in the room previously in order to join in the planned protest.

The protesters imposed themselves between the audience and me. This, combined with the loudness of their screaming and shouting, made continuation of my lecture impossible until after they had left. I observed the audience, and many of them, including some elderly visitors, were clearly intimidated by the aggression of theseprotesters. Several members of the audience appealed to the protesters to leave to allow the lecture to continue and these were met with even greater aggression including personal verbal abuse. In some cases I saw the protestors deliberately and aggressively invade the personal space of members of the audience,including at
least one elderly woman.

University security officers who were already present in the room asked the protesters to leave. When they abusively refused to do so, the security officers attempted to physically move them out. They resisted and pushed and shoved the security officers, impeding them from doing their jobs.It seemed to me that, in trying to eject the protesters, the security officers were acting out of concern for the safety of the audience members, as the intimidation by the protesters increased.

Associate Professor Jake Lynch, the Director of your Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, and Dr Nicholas Riemer, one of your senior lecturers, who were both apparently leading and encouraging the protesters, screamed at the security officers to desist. This seemed to be a clear attempt to impose their own authority as faculty members, thereby hoping to intimidate the security officers into allowing the abusive demonstration to
continue. At one point I observed Associate Professor Lynch waving money in the face of a Jewish student, a clearly aggressive and insulting act that seemed to invoke the stereotype of the ‘greedy Jew’. Although not Jewish myself, I found Associate Professor Lynch’s behavior deeply shocking and offensive.  (PHOTO HERE:)

I felt the language directed against me to be abusive and insulting. I have never supported a genocide nor the killing of civilians of which I was also accused by the protesters. In fact I have devoted my entire working life as a British soldier to defending my country and the countries of friends and allies; to preventing killing, terrorism and ethnic cleansing; to peace‐ keeping and to humanitarian operations. I have frequently risked my own life to do so. I have often served alongside troops from your own country. Surely it is not right that I, as a guest of your university and a visitor to your country, should be subjected to such gratuitous insults and slander.

Although the students attempted to intimidate me as well as the audience members, I did not feel personally threatened, as I have faced considerably greater dangers and threats than could possibly be presented or contemplated by such people. However, many of the audience members undoubtedly felt threatened and intimidated by the naked aggression shown to them by these students. I ask you if it is right that students, members of staff and visitors to your university, including elderly people, should be subjected to this form of abuse? From my observations of the audience I have no doubt that some of them were greatly and understandably traumatised by this experience.

Many members of the audience were Jewish and I am sure the demonstrators knew this and set out with the intention of intimidating Jews at the University of Sydney. This of course is nothing other than anti‐Semitism and it compounds the acts of intimidation by the protesters.

On the basis of my observations, as I have mentioned, Associate Professor Lynch and Dr Riemer sought to incite and encourage the student protesters. Can it be right that members of your university staff should indulge in such disgraceful action?

Peaceful and reasonable demonstration, such as handing out leaflets, chanting dissenting views or holding placards with messages of opposition to the views of a speaker, is of course acceptable. Indeed, such a peaceful demonstration was under way outside when I entered the room for my lecture. I was offered and accepted a leaflet, which I read and I briefly engaged in discussion with a protester. However the type of racially‐
motivated aggression, intimidation and abuse that occurred at this event is wholly unacceptable. Also unacceptable in any respectable university is the curtailment of an invited and approved speaker’s freedom to speak and engage in legitimate academic discourse such as I experienced at your university.

I urge you to investigate this incident and to take action against the students and staff members who were responsible for the behavior that I have described. If you fail to do so then you will be failing to discourage such action in your university in the future. You will thus be failing in your duty to ensure that your students, visitors and guest speakers may take part in debate within the precincts of the University of Sydney without fear or
concern for their own safety.

I would add that you have a particular responsibility in respect of the racist, anti‐Semitic nature of this protest. As you know anti‐Semitism is a rising phenomenon in the world. Jews in many places live in increasing fear and concern that they will be singled out and discriminated against. Only by taking firm action against anti‐Semitic
abuse and hatred whenever and wherever it occurs can this situation be reversed. Sydney University has the opportunity here to set an example to other academic institutions that lack the moral courage to face up to the modern scourge of anti‐Semitism.

Yours faithfully,
Colonel Richard Kemp CBE (Address removed)

Dr Michael Spence BA LLB Syd. DPhil PGDipTheol.Oxf.
Vice Chancellor
University of Sydney.

Link to ECAJ – Executive Council of Australian Jewry

 

 

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20 comments

  1. jonathanhoffman1

    well said Richard – disgusting behaviour by the Israel haters

  2. Avi Ben Gurion

    This person with a false name, posting incomprehensible messages with a false email address has been banned and the comment removed.

    He/she comes from Glen Eden, Wellington. NZ.

    • Pardon?

      What on earth are you talking about ?

    • Hey Avi is English your first language? Just wondering as your comment really doesnt make any sense

      • er… it makes perfect sense and I’m a visitor to the site. The comment that was clearly abusive and/or incomprehensible mutterings was removed. The person making the comment was using a false email address and they have now been banned. They come from Glen Eden in Wellington NZ. What is not to understand?

  3. I gree with colonel Kemp he is a gentleman not like the idiots who demonstrated and the idiot who calls himself a professor or lecturer

  4. Interestingly enough, in Melbourne things are not as bad yet, and Monash does conduct pro-Israel lectures without problems (so far)

    • Really? Monash seems to have a worse reputation than Sydney.
      Though lately…..well!!

    • Rafi, I would respectfully disagree that things are not so bad in Melbourne. Some years ago I went along to hear Daniel Pipes at the University of Melbourne, and he got the same abusive hecklers who were outside with their loud hailers. Once people ran the gauntlet of these thugs, we thought we would be safe inside the lecture theatre, but inexplicably the security people let them in, where they constantly disrupted the talk. I was extremely traumatised by the whole experience, as I’m sure most of the audience were.

      It’s way past time to take action. These thugs should be hit in the hip pocket and banned from campus, as they are creating a breach of the peace. Any academics who aid and abet should lose their jobs.

  5. Fantastic letter which draws to light the standards at Sydney Uni. It will be interesting to see if the powers that be try to ignore it or hold that behaviour up as reprehensible. Anti-Semitism needs to be called out for exactly what it is, and a strong stand taken against it.

  6. They chanted: “Richard Kemp, you can’t hide…You support genocide”

    Ummm.. .Not only has he never supported genocide, he wasn’t trying to hide. He was giving a presentation in a public forum.

    How on earth do such stupid people even gain admission to a university these days?

    In fact the only people who have to hide are those who speak out against Islamic terrorism (particularly if they are Muslim). Whereas those who demonise Israel are not only able to do so in relative safety, they even gain university (and therefore taxpayer) funding…

    • “…How on earth do such stupid people even gain admission to a university these days?”

      Sydney University has deteriorated very very much over the past few years :(.

      I understand that the “impetus” for this violent attack came from a notorious Jew-Hater, the “Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies” (Irony Overload ! ) who goes by the strangely befitting name of “Lynch”, unless it’s his stage name.

      I am always doubly disappointed when I see Jews being actively involved in Jew Hatred. Dr Nicholas Riemer is, unless I’m mistaken, the son of Andrew Riemer, a Holocaust survivor.

      Here is Andrew Bolt’s take on this shameful (if not rare) episode:

      http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/should_sydney_university_tolerate_this_thuggery_and_abuse/

      • Could well be Rita, there are an awful lot of Leftist Jews very unfortunately

    • Yes, these protesters are incapable of thinking for themselves – which is why they all chant similar mindless things. At Max Brenner it was “Max Brenner, come off it, there’s blood in your hot chocolate”. They are mindless zombies bent on disruption for its own sake, and should be banned from campus so that invited speakers are allowed to exercise their right to free speech.

  7. Senior academics using their privileged, protected positions to accuse Richard Kemp of supporting genocide, should be required to present supporting evidence for such a claim or be exposed for the intellectual frauds that they are. As to inciting students to behave in an intimidating way towards other students and visitors is concerned, that is unprofessional and beyond contempt. This has nothing to do with dissenting voices or intellectual discourse or freedom of expression or even the politics of the middle east. It is nothing more than an abuse of privilege by a bunch of hooligans who like pushing their weight around – I’m disgusted that my tax money goes to fund it.