For these of you who don’t know who Professor Jake Lynch is. Here’s a quick run-down for you.
Prof. Jake Lynch heads the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney. It appears he is his own, very own Centre for Peace and Conflict Study.
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.
There was much coverage and Lynch was slammed not only by the Jewish Community but academia too.
Then Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Centre decided to take legal action
This past week Both Jake Lynch and Andrew Hamilton, the Australian solicitor who represents Shurat HaDin in Israel have hit the media.
Let’s deal with the legal action first.
The Australian December 28th 2013.
Andrew Hamilton, representing the Israel-based legal action group Shurat HaDin, has submitted a sweeping statement of claim to the Federal Court alleging Professor Lynch has directly discriminated against academics, but also helped deprive all Israelis of cultural, educational, and professional opportunities.
Hamilton will claim in what is likely to be a landmark case revolving around conflicting interpretations of freedom of expression, that Professor Lynch, by refusing to support a fellowship application by Israeli academic Dan Avnon, deprived him of his professional rights in an act of racial discrimination.
He will further claim that all Israeli academics are adversely affected by the BDS policy of Professor Lynch, by calling for boycotts of Israel, Professor Lynch also contributes to the wider international boycott campaign that disadvantages owners of Israeli-related businesses and contributes towards Israelis being deprived of cultural opportunities.
Shurat HaDin alleges two academics, who have joined the case as plaintiffs, have been adversely affected by Professor Lynch’s policy, even though as yet they have not been the subject of specific actions.
Mr Hamilton told The Australian:
Dr Leonard Hammer, of the Hebrew University, a human rights lawyer, and Dr Mordechai Kedar, of Bar Ilan University, an Arabic studies specialist, have regularly lectured overseas, including in Australia
“They both are people who quite realistically may want to be a visiting scholar at the CPACS, where Lynch has implemented his boycott.
However, just as a sign on a bar saying ‘No Jews or Blacks Allowed’ discriminates against and disadvantages all Jews and blacks, even if they didn’t even want to go into the bar, so Jake Lynch’s BDS academic boycott discriminates and disadvantages all Israeli academics”
Now it appears that Jake Lynch has instigated a union investigation into whether his support for BDS actions against Israel influenced the Australian Research Council to reject a grant.
The Australian said it can reveal that earlier this year senior AusAID officers secretly considered blocking a $580,000 grant destined for Professor Lynch’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.
“Documents obtained under Freedom of Information show then AusAID assistant director-general Rebecca Bryant said she feared approving the grant might “compound” media attention surrounding BDS, even though the proposed research programme had nothing to do with the international boycott campaign seeking improved rights for Palestinians.”
Bob Carr, who was Foreign Minister at the time, and I might add has shown himself to be anti-Israel, has told The Australian he is surprised by the action by Ms Bryant, that he would not have approved any move to sanction academics for supporting BDS, and that it could have been a reaction
“down the bureaucratic food chain that was their doing”.
Mr Carr said…
“I had not the remotest idea why a grant to a project about violence against women in Africa would have been considered controversial”
Professor Lynch has been in a public battle with the Coalition since May, when then opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said a Coalition government would ensure
“no grants of taxpayers’ funds are provided to individuals or organisations which actively support the BDS campaign”.
This year Professor Lynch submitted an application to the federally funded ARC for $290,000 to study the work of journalists in South Africa, Nepal, Australia and Britain.
The ARC recently rejected his application.
“It could be, of course, that it was simply adjudged not quite good enough by the assessors,”
Professor Lynch told The Australian.
“But the Bishop statement, and the earlier evidence that AusAID … improperly took my support for BDS into account, leaves me with suspicions that this has happened with the ARC too.
I have verbal agreement from the National Tertiary Education Union that they will launch a Freedom of Information request to see if there is any correspondence showing a possible link.”
Labor MP Michael Danby, a fierce opponent of BDS, said he found it ironic Professor Lynch was whinging about not getting a research grant when he had refused to help Professor Avnon get one. Rather than being the result of a “political conspiracy”, Mr Danby said, the ARC would have made its decision based on academic rigour.
“Jake Lynch is not a very highly regarded academic, he’s just basically an ex-BBC journalist.”
A spokeswoman for the ARC said grant applications were confidential, but Ministers had not told the council to reject grant applications from BDS supporters.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne has final sign-off on ARC grants; however, a spokesman denied he had intervened in Professor Lynch’s application. Professor Lynch drew an analogy to the AusAID case, where senior officers were in contact with Mr Carr’s office concerning the grant application led by researchers at CPACS. A Carr office staff member, Claire McGeechan, sought assurances that previous grants to CPACS had not been used to support BDS. AusAID wrote to the applicant asking for assurances that CPACS “is not in any way associated with the BDS campaign”.
The independent selection panel recommended approval, but Ms Bryant wrote to a colleague expressing concern and seeking advice.
“The centre has been in the media recently because a) its director, Jake Lynch, is a vocal supporter of the BDS campaign and b) we provided the organisation with two grants.”
She further said
“So the question now is whether we proceed to approve a grant … possibly compounding the existing media focus on this issue. A broader question is whether we have any grounds to deny them a grant given they are not a proscribed organisation.”
Ms Bryant declined to comment, except to say: “I have nothing to hide.” A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman did not answer written questions from The Australian, but said “the former AusAID followed relevant guidelines”.