The University of Sydney.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
A recent statement by an Australian academic in favor of anti-Semitic speech elicited anger from that country’s Jewish community, which termed such sentiments “morally bankrupt” on Sunday.
Supporters of the Islamic State terrorist group have the right to “express their anti-Semitism,” Sydney University lecturer Yarran Hominh said, according to a Friday report on the news.com.au website.
“I would say yes, we should ‘allow’ them to express their anti-Semitism — within bounds, of course,” Hominh asserted.
In response, Peter Wertheim, the executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, told The Jerusalem Post
that such an “attempt to justify anti-Semitic discourse on campus highlights the morally bankrupt dead end to which the entire campaign to delegitimize Israel and deny the reality of Jewish peoplehood logically leads.”
“The BDS depiction of the Jewish State as innately evil and beyond redemption is a repackage of a classical anti-Semitic trope. Nevertheless, we do take some comfort from the fact that several University of Sydney academics, including some from the anti-Israel Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, denounced these views and were not prepared to align themselves with Islamist theo-fascism. Perhaps the scales are starting to fall from their eyes,” he said.
Hominh, who was described as a supporter of the BDS movement by the Australian media, was responding to an ongoing debate at the university over the administration’s disciplinary actions against a professor and several students who disrupted of a speech about Israel’s 2014 Gaza incursion.
During the mid-March event, students burst into the lecture by Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, accusing him of supporting genocide.
As they were removed from the room, Prof. Jake Lynch, who heads the university’s Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, hurled verbal abuse at pro-Israel students, accusing them of stifling the protesters’ free speech.
He was also photographed brandishing cash in a student’s face in what critics have alleged to be an anti-Semitic incident.
Hominh’s call for tolerance for anti-Semitism came in response to a campus debate regarding the propriety of disciplining those involved in the fracas. In an open letter late last month, three university professors called the university’s inquest into the matter a “massively disproportionate, unjustifiable and unprecedented response,” alleging that it constituted “a serious threat to civil and political liberties on campus.”
“Students around the world, for their part, routinely interrupt political talks at universities. As places which should be dedicated to fostering a healthy democratic culture and empowering young people to take the initiative as political actors, universities must always err on the side of extreme indulgence towards these kinds of action,” wrote professors Stuart Rees, Nick Riemer, and David Brophy.
“The unwarranted disciplinary proceedings in which the university is engaged can only have the effect of intimidating human rights promoters on campus,” they wrote.
In another open letter quoted by news.com.au, Riemer and his compatriots also spoke out against a campus ban on the spokesman of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a radical Islamic organization whose leaders in Australia have publicly called for violence against Jews.