Sticking Up For Shurat HaDin.

My blog subscribes to New Matilda. It is dirty work but someone has to do it so it may as well be the blog. . It occasionally even scans the home page for anything interesting. My blog is a niche operation and pretty much only ever finds a certain set of issues interesting. They range all the way from Leftist/Islamist racism and  imperialism at one end of the spectrum to Islamist/Leftist racism and imperialism at the other.

New Matilda styles itself as “independent journalism at its best”.   They are “crowd funded” so every now and again I get a puff email asking for money. Sorry guys. Not my crowd.

I got one of these a few days ago that included this paragraph.

New Matilda was the only Australian media outlet to come out strongly against the outrageous attack on academic freedom and freedom of association by Israeli law centre Shurat HaDin, which is pursuing legal action against Professor Jake Lynch from Sydney University.

So I followed the link. As you do. New Matilda and the usual suspects have launched a nasty attack on Shurat HaDin. That is interesting. This is one reason I think ECAJ was wrong to disown the Shurat HaDin initiative. BDS is a sinister movement that will take every opportunity to press its world view that as we know has a wildly disproportionate focus on Jews at every level.

This is what these people do when they think they can do it with impunity. ECAJ made no observations on the merits of the case. New Matilda and the BDS group it harbours are now pressing the issue. This is what happens when you give these people an inch. Surely we know who they are by now. 

I noted the Shurat HaDin case and was happy to just watch it unfold. After reading this article I’ve changed my mind. This is not entirely a simple reflex at the sight of the whites of their eyes. They are after all not all British. I am going to stick up for the Shurat HaDin action. Community leaders are squeamish about it but it has drawn the “destroy Israel” mob out into the open and we should take a shot. At least not let their narrative go unanswered.

This is the linked article.

Israeli Law Centre Sues To Outlaw Boycotts

By Max Chalmers

 

An Israeli legal centre has made good on threats to take Sydney University Professor Jake Lynch and the BDS movement to court – and seeks to have BDS declared unlawful, reports Max Chalmers

After months of speculation, emails, and a visit to the Australian Human Rights Commission, the self-described “Israeli legal centre” Shurat HaDin has made good on its threat to pursue legal action against the controversial Boycotts, Sanctions, and Divestments (BDS) movement in the Federal Court.

The organisation this week filed a case against University of Sydney academic Jake Lynch, accusing the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies director of breaching Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act by supporting the global BDS movement, which aims to pressure Israel into ending its occupation of the Palestinian territories, returning to 1967 borders, and allowing the return of the Palestinian diaspora.

…and this …

The announcement of court proceedings has drawn outrage from pro-BDS groups. In a press conference held yesterday in Sydney’s Queen’s Square, University of Sydney academic Stuart Rees said Shurat HaDin was endangering free speech in Australia and conflating critiques of Israeli policy with anti-semitism. Rees, who chairs the Sydney Peace Foundation, rejected accusations that supporters of BDS take an unfairly tough line on Israel and said he and Lynch also worked hard to draw attention to human rights abuses in places like Sri Lanka, West Papua, Cambodia, and Saudi Arabia.

“This notion that because we are also focused on the human rights of people in Israel and in Palestine — that we therefore don’t pay any attention to anything else — is a typical deflection technique,” he said.

Along with Lynch, Rees has collected 2000 signatures from people willing to act as co-defendants, not least of whom is Booker prize winning author Arundhati Roy.

Though Lynch remains on research leave, the small crowd was also addressed by University of New South Wales Associate Professor Peter Slezak. The son of Romanian holocaust survivors, Slezak said he was keenly aware of the dangers of antisemitism, but that the BDS movement should not be understood through the lens of racial discrimination.

“It is clearly not about antisemitism to criticise violations of international law. Israel is a state like any other state,” Slezak said.

 

Rees described Shurat HaDin as an aggressive foreign organisation during his press conference, and said they were using the Australian legal system to silence anti-Israeli dissent.

Do read it all.

You see, this is the sort of stuff that I find more than vaguely irritating. Academics engaging in what used to be called “Direct Action”  claiming that their political activity as academics that has nothing to do with research and teaching is always covered by academic freedom and free speech. 

What has this got to do with free speech? This is about the boycotting of private businesses and individuals entirely on the basis of their perceived association with Jewish nationhood as manifest in the State of Israel. What’s there to talk about there?

What has this got to do with academic freedom? How does that work? Does this mean academics are always exempt from the consequences of political acts they carry out as academics that have nothing to do with research, publishing and teaching? Does that mean academics on strike must still be paid because to cut the flow would infringe their freedom?

So I left this comment and to their credit NM published it. 

Posted Wednesday, November 6, 2013 – 16:00

 I don’t know how I missed this. If it wasn’t for that begging email asking for money I would have overlooked this fatuous piece entirely. Better late than never.

I applaud the actions of Shurat HaDin and I wish them well. This is an important case that defines limits in more ways than one. I also support the Government’s decision to cut funding to this academic unit and hope that it is kept to its promise to cut ALL funding including for projects that are claimed to be not specifically  for BDS or other antizionist or antisemitic and racist attacks on a besieged minority in both the Middle East and Australia.

There is no question that Shurat HaDin is acting in the spirit of the Southern Poverty Law Center on which it is based. 

You need to understand that what we have here is a fundamental ideological dispute. I am as appalled by you as you are by me. When I see a BDS rally on the news I could not be more sickened than if it was a march by the KKK in Birmingham, Alabama, circa 1961. For exactly the same reasons.

Claims that this is not discrimination are risible. Lynch and Rees say they draw attention to “human rights abuses” in places like Sri Lanka, West Papua, Cambodia, and Saudi Arabia. How come no one ever hears of this? Apart from the fact there is no remote comparison, in none of those cases, or any other even more egregious examples they ignore, are they demanding and imposing boycotts, organising political meetings, demanding the dispossession of people from their land on the basis of their ethnicity or nationality or working for the dissolution of a state with concrete foundations in international law.  

If you do not understand that this is discrimination and double standards of the ugliest kind then maybe you might get it if we sang it too you.

This has got nothing to do with free speech. Rees and Lynch can say what they like. This has got nothing to do with academic freedom. Lynch and Rees have crossed the line into political activism they have no right to complain if they are treated as political activists.

It has nothing to do with Palestinian rights. If Rees and Lynch and the whole BDS mob gave a damn about the Palestinians they would be howling for their liberation from the death grip of Hamas and the cold, brutal, corrupt  hold of Fatah. They would be demanding that theses people be treated as equal human beings in the places they live such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Invariably the places of their birth.

Rees and Lynch call for boycotts. They implement them. They want private businesses and individuals cut off from that which nurture them; including other academics.  By what special pleading do they claim exemption from that which they demand for others? 

 And today we have this :

Is It Anti-Semitic To Protest Injustice?

By Peter Slezak

 

Even its critics must acknowledge that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is a peaceful protest against Israel’s serious violations of human rights and international law, writes Peter Slezak

After a recent public speech, I received an email from someone I don’t know named Bloom, who said that I should have perished in the Holocaust with the rest of my family.

Ironically, the insult was prompted by my support of an academic colleague, Professor Jake Lynch, who has been charged in Federal Court with racial discrimination against Jews, but who is, in fact, a distinguished defender of human rights, justice and international law. Acting in accordance with the growing movement for institutional Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), Lynch chose not to collaborate with an Israeli academic from a university deeply complicit in the brutal 46-year occupation of Palestine.

Non-Jewish critics of Israel are accused of anti-semitism for supporting causes such as BDS, while Jewish critics regularly receive vile denunciations and even death threats from other Jews. Most common is the label “self-hating Jew” – a pseudo psychological diagnosis of a mental disorder for which the only criterion is criticism of Israel.

Support for the BDS movement is not anti-semitic. Even its critics must acknowledge that BDS is based on the call from Palestinian civil society to protest Israel’s serious violations of human rights and international law.

Palestinians have long been condemned for violent resistance to the Israeli occupation, so the emergence of peaceful protest through BDS should be welcomed. Instead, it is denounced and slandered as racist. But BDS is a rights-based movement which is against racism in all forms, notably and explicitly against anti-semitism.

[end]

Dear me. Do read it all. This does require a response and I’ve made a start (below). But there’s so much material here it will require several posts.

geoffff
Posted Thursday, November 7, 2013 – 14:40

What I said hereI never cease to be astounded that BDS supporters always, always, seek to pre-emptively deflect the mantle of racism by hiding behind a Jew upfront saying what they want him to say for them when in fact this merely confirms it. 

“… while Jewish critics regularly receive vile denunciations and even death threats from other Jews. Most common is the label “self-hating Jew” – a pseudo psychological diagnosis of a mental disorder for which the only criterion is criticism of Israel.”

I simply do not believe this. Any “vile denunciations” would be from someone’s cousin probably over dinner.

“Self-hating Jew” is a phrase I never use myself. It’s too “touchy feely”. Almost hippy. A bit too west of Byron Bay. Anyway I’ve never seen it defined that way.

I prefer the term, “antisemite”. 

More coming in a post near you soon.

OK. More posts coming. Do look through the comment thread under the Shurat HaDin post. There’s a comment from Jake Lynch himself. It includes the most chilling rationale for why BDS is not discriminatory I have ever seen.  

Cross posted Israel Thrives

                    Geoffff’s Joint

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9 comments

  1. I had never heard of “The New Matilda” before, but I followed your link and have already left two comments there, now awaiting moderation. It will be interesting to see if they are approved and, if so, what will be the reaction.

  2. This was posted on the Facebook page of the Sydney Uni BDS activists.

    “WARNING NOTICE TO BDS ACTIVISTS FROM THE ISRAEL LAW CENTER

    Criticism of and protest regarding the policies of the Israeli government are perfectly legal.

    When that protest extents to boycotting Israeli businesses and professors whose only connection to the Israeli government is that Israel is their national origin, that is unlawful racial discrimination.

    When those protests extend to intimidation of Israelis and Jews, that is unlawful racial discrimination.

    It is lawful to criticise Japan’s policies. It is not lawful to boycott Japanese people and businesses because of disagreement with those policies.

    It is lawful to criticise India’s policies. It is not lawful to boycott Indian people and businesses because of disagreement with those policies.

    It is lawful to criticise Israel’s policies. It is not lawful to boycott Israeli people and businesses because of disagreement with those policies.

    If you keep on the right side of this line you will not be prosecuted.”

  3. There is no doubt that the BDS movement is a racist and anti-Semitic one, and that its proponents threaten legitimate businesses. Lynch is not upholding freedom of speech; rather his is supporting the thugs who threaten innocent people. I’ve been to enough BDS rallies to realise how intimidating the proponents are.

    How often has Lynch tried to boycott Emirates, a truly racist and apartheid country? Or any of the other Arab countries, all of which discriminate against Jews, Christians, women and homosexuals. It’s time these anti-Semites were exposed and I for one congratulate Shurat HaDin for their brave action, an action our Jewish leadership should have taken.

  4. Still catching up so my delayed response to this is if Lynch & Rees are so focused on human rights abuses in Saudi etc (as they say) are they boycotting halal (sharia compliant food), are they boycotting sharia finance, are they boycotting sharia compliant education and demanding academic integrity from our universities and schools, or are they just boycotting Israeli products? Why isn’t there boycott, divestment and sanctions lobby against Islamic nations for their appalling human rights abuses?

  5. It’s early days but a toast to Shurat HaDin for bringing this important case . Let’s hope for a good result and that it puts an end to this blatantly racist aspect of BDS activism .