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.
Assoc. Professor Mark Baker
Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation (ACJC)
Monash University, Vic.
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.
- Will StandWithUs representatives be made welcome by ACJC on Monash University grounds? (Yes / No)
- 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)
- 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?