Open Letter to Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation.

credit: Monash University.

The Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation (ACJC) at Monash University  equips students with an understanding of Jewish civilisation in its many aspects – language and literature, history, theology, philosophy, rabbinics, law, politics and sociology. The first-year gateway units provide students with an understanding of the foundations of Jewish history, followed by more specialised electives across a diverse range of disciplines and areas of study. The minor offers several overseas units based at the Monash Prato Centre in Italy. Students may also undertake a minor in the Yiddish language stream.

Mark Baker is Director of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation and Kronhill Associate Professor of Jewish Studies in the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies at Monash University and one would wonder why he’d  take issue with an outstanding organisation such as  StandWithUs?

Mark Baker is a member of the advisory council of the far-left New Israel Fund Australia. While the NIF claims to promote equality of civil and human rights, social and economic justice, women’s rights, religious pluralism and tolerance and environmental protection, it has supported many anti-Israel NGOs, including those that gave false evidence on to the Goldstone Commission, and groups which demonise Israel. Baker also notoriously gave a platform to BDS activists, including Samah Sabawi who is a leading light in the BDS movement, during a Limmud Oz session in 2014 without giving the audience a right to question them.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency wrote that:-

“Jewish academics are blasting the hiring of a coordinator for Israel advocacy for Australian college campuses.”

Joel Burnie, 23, was jointly appointed as the inaugural student campus coordinator by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council and the U.S.-based campus advocacy organisation StandWithUs.

Mark Baker, the director of the Centre for the Study of Jewish Civilization at Monash University in Melbourne, slammed the appointment in an article in the Australian Jewish News, saying it would as Baker wrote…

“doom Jewish academics and students to isolation and defeat.”

“There’s no need to widen the war and bring in proxy mercenaries to torpedo the battle with watchdogs and overseas provocateurs.”

With this in mind following is an open letter  to Mark Baker from ‘Nothing Left’ Jewish Radio.

Nothing LeftDirector ACJC

Assoc. Professor Mark Baker

Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation (ACJC)

Monash University, Vic.

Dear Sir,

We have a programme on Jewish community radio J-Air 87.8 FM Melbourne covering Israel and Jewish related issues. One of our regular topics is Anti-Zionism on Campus and in Academia.

You may be aware that internationally respected Israel advocacy organisation, StandWithUs, is establishing an office in Australia.

Based on previous attempts by StandwithUs to help counter the epidemic of anti-Zionism and antisemitism in Melbourne, we learned that you and your ACJC staff were fiercely opposed to any form of Israel advocacy on campus. We understand you or one of your fellow academics stated that university campus was not the place for Israel advocacy.

One of our topics on our programme next Tuesday will cover StandWithUs, its previous encounters via AIJAC, and Joel Burnie. We would like to hear from you or one of the ACJC representatives to understand your current stance on the matter since that 2008 encounter.

Alternatively, if you are not willing to make an ACJC staff member available to discuss this topic, I have enclosed a list of questions, which you can answer in writing. This way, we can still inform our listeners of your point of view – we believe it is important that our listeners hear both sides of any dispute, so they make up their own minds.

We at Nothing Left strongly believe in ‘not shutting down debate’ and conducting civil discussion.

In the past, your academics made the StandWithUs issue public by speaking with mainstream media. As such, we have included a number of other interested parties in this email.

Given ACJC is a community funded department, we are sure your benefactors and supporters would also like to be kept in the loop.

We would appreciate if you could please respond by 4pm Monday 6 June, 2016, with either an acceptance to discuss the issues/questions below on-air next Tuesday, 7 June between 9 – 11am, or if you are not willing to participate in a discussion on-air, in writing via email.

  1. Will StandWithUs representatives be made welcome by ACJC on Monash University grounds? (Yes / No)
  2. Will Standwithus be given an equal opportunity to speak with Jewish students along with Israel -Critical guest speakers that you have from time to time? (Yes / No)
  3. Can you clarify the following:
  • Do you or any of the ACJC current or former staff believe Israel’s flag should be changed because the ‘Magen David’ Star of David may offend or not relate to Israel’s Arab / Muslim minority? (Yes / No)
  • Do  you or any current or former ACJC Staff suggest changing Israel’s national anthem ‘Hatikva’ because it offends or does not relate to Israel’s minority Arab / Muslim citizens (Yes / No)

4. What is the ACJC and staff position on Israel remaining a Jewish State i.e. a State for    the Jews?

Thank you,

Nothing Left

Co- Host

Michael Burd






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  1. “…we learned that you and your ACJC staff were fiercely opposed to any form of Israel advocacy on campus. We understand you or one of your fellow academics stated that university campus was not the place for Israel advocacy.”

    Campus not a place for advocacy?

    That’s the stupidist thing that I have ever heard.

    Of course, there should be pro-Israel activism and advocacy on western university campuses.

    In fact, the campuses are (along with governmental institutions) the MOST important places to stand the hell up.

    This kind of thing infuriates me because it smacks of both hypocrisy and cowardice.

    Not only should the ACJC welcome pro-Israel activism on that campus, but they should be directly involved in the organizing.

    My guess is that they would argue that they are working with the university administration behind the scenes to address questions of anti-Semitism on campus.

    This is what they tell me at San Francisco State, as well.

    “Just be patient. We’re working behind the scenes.”


    Meanwhile they put up a mural of that famed Israel-Hater Edward Said… a guy that we literally have in a photo throwing rocks at the IDF.

    Anyway, thank you for this, Michael and Shirlee.

    • Yes “Campus no place for advocacy”

      That’s the loony left for you.

      The mind boggles

  2. Oh, and btw, Shirlee?

    The JDU logo is wild!

    I love it!

    I would steal it accept for the fact that, y’know, I am not Australian and we don’t exactly have many kangaroos bouncing around Northern California.


    • Michael Lumish!!!!

      That logo was drawn in pencil by an artist friend of mine. I keep meaning to frame the original. I can’t believe you just noticed it. It’s been there for 2 years!! 🙂

      • What you need to do is frame the original and send it to me so that Laurie and I can place it above our fire place. If you had a heart that is exactly what you would do!


        • I can send you the email if you so wish Michael. I am included in the original recipients. 🙂 🙂

  3. Unfortunately no response from ACJC as yet I take it there is no change in their hard-line leftist views on Israel. We would have preferred to have a representative from Monash ACJC to discuss this issue on Tuesday morning . I guess the head and staff at ACJC are too embarrassed to justify on air their extremist views on Israel.

  4. No when it comes to robust debate the lefty’s at ACJC are lacking in courage .

  5. If you have a look at the Monash University’s Caulfield branch library holdings for books dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict, you will find that there are multiple much-worn copies of anti-Israeli books, of hard-left/Post-Zionist Revisionist writers like Elan Pappe, Joel Beinen, Avi Shlaim, Nikki Keddi, Baruch Kimmerling, et al., obviously reflecting their inclusion in course required reading lists, but next to no copies, even single copies, of such critics of such unreliable polemicists as Efraim Karsh, who has provided very detailed books showing the often blatant falsehoods in those hard-left and/or Post-Zionist writers’ works. It might be of interest for campus activists to review the syllabi and reading requirements for courses dealing with Israel. I have to assume that they present a very unsympathetic, hard-left picture of the Jewish state. Some of those courses may be taught by Mark Baker. He in any case is the head of the program of studies, and so is responsible for this sort of systemic bias in the courses taught in it.

    The refusal of Mark Baker even to engage in dialogue with critics of this sort of thing is troubling, and may be itself a confession that he has a lot to answer for that cannot bear examination. I would suggest that Jewish students ought not to subscribe to such courses, at least until their content is shown not to be highly partisan and systematically biased against the Jewish state.

  6. By the way, if as Prof. Baker claims, there is no place for advocacy in academic courses, one must urge him to abolish those courses that in effect are advocating against Israel and echoing the Palestinian narrative in highly partisan fashion. They do not fit the standards he himself appeals to to justify rejecting StandWithUs.