Yesterday 4th June, the call for BDS was overturned at the branch meeting of the National Tertiary Education Union .
On June 4th Ean Higgins of the Australian wrote:
SYDNEY University academics have divided into warring camps over moves to boycott Israel, launching fierce campaigns to win over colleagues ahead of a high noon vote today.
He wrote that Dianna Kenny publicly urged faculty members to reverse last month’s vote whilst calling for discussion regarding the BDS campaign.
What a surprise, good old Jake Lynch, the person who started this trouble due to his refusal to allow Dan Avnon fellowship application is rallying his supporters to hold firm.
This refusal, by the way, backfired when Dan Anon was offered a Sir Zelman Cowen scholarship at Sydney University’s Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, a superior position.
Professor Kenny, who is a scholar of music and psychology and a National Tertiary Education Union branch committee member, defied a gag order from branch president Michael Thomson, who urged committee members not to talk to the HES – Higher Education Services.
Professor Kenny said while she supported Professor Lynch’s right to speak in favour of BDS, the 2011 NTEU National Council had determined it was not the proper role of the union to support or endorse the campaign.
“We are fortunate at the University of Sydney to have an active and dedicated branch of the NTEU that has achieved major successes with respect to pay and conditions through the recent round of enterprise bargaining,”
she told the HES, stressing she was speaking in an individual capacity.
“I believe that the proper agenda of the NTEU is the survival of higher education … particularly in light of the … budget.”
Peter Slezak, an associate professor of philosophy at the UNSW, has backed Professor Lynch. Another surprise.
“Academic freedom of Palestinian academics is being oppressed,”
Professor Slezak, who is Jewish, told the HES, saying there could be no harm about opening a discussion on the topic.
“The idea the NTEU is going to shut this down is quite shocking.’’
The campus battle over BDS has seen some of the most bitter and divisive confrontations between academics in recent years, and has already taken a casualty. This was revealed that the vice-president of the campus branch of the NTUE, Damien Cahill, resigned as an office holder last week, as reported in The Weekend Australian.
The outcome of this and attacks on Jake Lynch, a political scientist, for his support of BDS, which include an ongoing Federal Court case instigated by the Israeli legal group Shurat HaDin, have raised his profile and that of the BDS movement, and he has a growing support network on campus and beyond.
According to the Facebook Page of the Sydney Staff for BDS
Today’s vote not to close discussion on BDS down in the NTEU Sydney Branch was narrowly lost. Sydney Staff for BDS will continue to campaign for BDS outside the formal structures of the union. We won’t be deterred from prosecuting the arguments for what’s the best chance for peace in Israel-Palestine. Momentum for BDS is building.
I am not inclined to believe this, given what I know and have seen over the years regarding these leftist/pro-Palestinian groups. They are anything but accurate and honest and are prone to exaggeration.
On their website, which is worth reading, they say:
Why does BDS matter to USyd?
Sydney University is a conspicuous supporter of Israel, maintaining formal connections to a number of Israeli academic institutions through well funded exchange programs, such as the exchange with the Hebrew University, and a new partnership with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Through its active support of Israeli institutions the University of Sydney leaves Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians completely unchallenged, and helps Israel to whitewash its acute human rights violations.
As staff at the University of Sydney we have a responsibility not to work with institutions that either remain silent while the Israeli state destroys the educational infrastructure of Palestine, or are actively complicit with this destruction. Jake Lynch, an NTEU member from the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, is currently being attacked through the Federal Court for his decision to exercise his intellectual freedom by upholding the institutional academic boycott.
It would have been better to be using today to talk about our urgent priorities – the library, federal funding cuts, the budget. No one supporting BDS has ever said otherwise: I’ll be moving a motion about our budget response later.
Like it or not, however, this meeting’s been called to answer a different question. Should we agree to continue a broad, open discussion on whether we should support the institutional academic boycott of Israeli universities – or should we effectively shut discussion down?
Some relevant parts, but again you should read it all.
Why should the Middle East matter to us? While our Israeli colleagues and their students enjoy conditions like ours, our Palestinian colleagues and their students are subjected to continual deprivation, checkpoints, raids, tear-gas, and bullets. Intellectual freedom doesn’t exist under siege and occupation.
Our own university isn’t a bystander. Sydney has privileged academic agreements with Israeli universities that provide the ideological and technical infrastructure for the occupation. It is absolutely appropriate for us to at least talk about whether our union should support this partnership.