Ben-Gurion University campus in Beersheba 370.
(photo credit: BGU)
The Shurat Hadin Legal Action Center filed a class action complaint with the
Australian Human Rights Commission on Tuesday over a Sydney professor’s
participation in and public support of Israel boycotts.
According to a
press release, faculty and students at Sydney University recently called for
severing links with Israeli institutions, “actions that would be deemed racist
and in violation of Australian Federal anti-discrimination laws.”
statement said the complaint – which Shurat Hadin’s Australian solicitor
Alexander Hamilton filed under Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act 1975 – is
the “first time that a Racial Discrimination Act action has been launched in
Australia against those promoting boycotts, sanctions and divestment (BDS)
against the Jewish State.”
Further, the statement went on, “it is the
first time that Australia’s anti-racism laws have been utilized against those
seeking to harm Israeli academics or businesses because of their national
In its letter to the Australian commission, Shurat Hadin pointed
out that the Racial Discrimination Act made it unlawful for anyone “to do any
act involving a distinction, exclusion... or preference based on race... or
national or ethnic origin which has the purpose... of nullifying or impairing...
fundamental freedom in the... economic, social, cultural or any other field of
The complaint also noted that any boycott of Israeli
“settlement products,” such as SodaStream and Ahava, harmed Palestinian economic
interests, since the factories employed many Palestinian workers and provided an
important source of income for local families and villages.
semester, the university’s student body endorsed associate Prof. Jake Lynch’s
academic boycott of Israel, Shurat Hadin said.
The statement said that
Lynch had publicly announced his refusal to work with Dan Avnon of Jerusalem’s
Hebrew University and also called for a boycott of the Technion – Israel
Institute of Technology in Haifa.
Shurat Hadin said it had warned Lynch
last month to cease participation “in unlawful, and racist, boycott
The legal NGO added that Lynch had ignored its
It also noted that “although widely condemned by mainstream
politicians and community figures, Lynch has also been publicly supported by
notorious Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben.”
Next, the NGO stated that
authorities such as the Anti- Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center
had recognized the BDS movement as anti-Semitic.
Hamilton called the BDS
movement “racist by its own definition because it seeks to discriminate and
impose adverse preference based on Israeli national origin and Jewish racial and
ethnic origin of people and organizations.”
He stressed that the movement
“does nothing to help Palestinians and indeed harms them. It is merely an excuse
for the vilest public anti-Semitic campaign the Western world has seen since the
Shurat Hadin director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner expressed hope
that “this historic proceeding against the BDS movement will serve as a model
for battling it in other jurisdictions worldwide.”