Global Animosity Club

Can we please have an end to the left’s ostracism of all things Israel? Quite frankly, this phenomenon has become predictable, tiresome and obsolete. Even the Palestinian ambassador to Australia rejects it. The latest episode of this default position – when in doubt, hate – is the attempt to prevent the Israel Research Forum at Sydney University on 31 October 2011, and is just the latest manifestation in a pattern of concerted efforts by the Global Animosity Club.

Under the aegis of the BDS campaign, Associate Professor Jake Lynch, director of the University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, wants to prevent the Israel Research Forum from visiting the University next week. Apparently, the visit might offend "potential Muslim undergraduates". Dr Lynch contends that the appearance of Jewish academics from universities in Israel is “contrary to the university’s social inclusion policy, which requires it to reach out to students in western Sydney”.

I swear I am not making this up.

He goes on to explain that most Muslim students live in the west and feel “resentment and alienation resulting from the predominance of pro-Israeli voices in Australia’s political and media discourses”.

These statements are problematic on so many levels, it is difficult to know where to start.

That Dr Lynch is the director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, while simultaneously a strong supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign should remove any doubts about where his academic and teaching sympathies lie. There can be no doubt that his young undergraduates (of the real kind, not the potential kind possibly living in western Sydney) have absorbed this ideological position to the fullest extent.

That the Director of a Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies can have such a blatant ideological stance, and use his position and authority to influence the views of those attending the forum, and interfere with the academic life of the university, is deplorable.

That he has been asked to intervene by the Campaign for Justice and Peace in Palestine, a group that has pushed the BDS campaign among councils in Sydney, is actually quite sinister.

Is Dr Lynch therefore inferring that all Muslim undergraduates, whether real or imagined, are totally opposed to Israeli participation in any form of Australian life, academic, cultural or otherwise? Should we ban all interaction with any persons who are now or have ever been residents or citizens of the Jewish state? How does this position fit in with the University’s "social inclusion policy", which seems to prefer the feelings of potential undergraduates over the entire Jewish community in Australia?

In America Alone, Mark Steyn describes the emerging Muslim lobby groups as the “McDonald’s coffee plaintiff of ethno-cultural grievance mongers”. The Australian wing of the BDS movement is in serious danger of becoming the serial McDonalds litigant. Whenever there is even of a whiff of Israeli involvement in any activity, in connection to any person or group, the BDS trump card is pulled, no matter how tenuous the link or how trivial the matter.

And yet the head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, Izzat Abdulhadi, has explicitly rejected the use of violence, coercion or boycotting Israel: “Our objective is to build our own state, not to delegitimise any other state”.

One look at the highly inflammatory topics for discussion at the Israel Research Forum provides an insight to Dr Lynch’s concerns. Speakers include Professor Louise Baur and Professor Moshe Phillips, providing an overview of their research in obesity and diabetes, as well as Ms Yona Gilead and Professor Yael Ziv, addressing the controversial topic of the Pedagogy of Teaching a Second Language.

Yet one has to wonder; why are certain Australian academics, councillors and Green senators so choleric about Israel – not to mention intemperate and censorious – when the Palestinian ambassador himself sounds so reasonable, articulate, moderate and sensible? Clearly, the ideological position of Dr Lynch, Fiona Byrne, Lee Rhiannon et al is that entrenched that an earthquake wouldn’t shift them now.

The global animosity club is completely out of hand and has to stop. Perhaps the only way to achieve this – in Australia at least – is (I almost shudder to contemplate it) to launch a class action under the Racial Discrimination Act. While it might have seemed like a good idea to most progressives when this Act was used to silence Andrew Bolt, I’m not sure it will enjoy the same popularity  next time round. 

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