Jake Lynch’s BDS academic boycott discriminates and disadvantages all Israeli academics

‘No Jews or Blacks Allowed’  

Setting off an academic boycott is something like going nuclear. Once you set it off, it’s hard to know where the damage to academia stops. For every action there is a reaction.

Anti-Israeli academic boycotters can dish it out, but can’t take it. Lynch now is complaining that he is the victim of counter-BDS retaliation.


SYDNEY wackademic Jake Lynch has been accused of discriminating against all Israelis like a pub owner saying “No Jews Allowed”.


Ean Higgins/The Australian

SYDNEY academic Jake Lynch’s promotion of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign has discriminated against all Israelis in the same fashion as a pub owner hanging out a sign saying “No Jews or Blacks Allowed”, the lawyer leading a lawsuit against him will argue.


Andrew Hamilton, representing the Israel-based legal action group Shurat HaDin, has submitted a sweeping statement of claim to the Federal Court alleging Professor Lynch has directly discriminated against academics, but also helped deprive all Israelis of cultural, educational, and professional opportunities.

In what is likely to be a landmark case revolving around conflicting interpretations of freedom of expression, Shurat HaDin will claim that Professor Lynch, by refusing to support a fellowship application by Israeli academic Dan Avnon, deprived him of his professional rights in an act of racial discrimination.

But Shurat HaDin’s case will extend to claiming that all Israeli academics are adversely affected by the BDS policy of Professor Lynch, who is head of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.

The statement of claim also says that, by calling for boycotts of Israel, Professor Lynch also contributes to the wider international boycott campaign that disadvantages owners of Israeli-related businesses and contributes towards Israelis being deprived of cultural opportunities such as seeing big acts ranging from Santana to Pink Floyd.

Shurat HaDin alleges two academics, who have joined the case as plaintiffs, have been adversely affected by Professor Lynch’s policy, even though as yet they have not been the subject of specific actions.

Dr Leonard Hammer, of the Hebrew University, a human rights lawyer, and Dr Mordechai Kedar, of Bar Ilan University, an Arabic studies specialist, have regularly lectured overseas, including in Australia, Mr Hamilton told The Australian.

“They both are people who quite realistically may want to be a visiting scholar at the CPACS, where Lynch has implemented his boycott,” Mr Hamilton said. “However, just as a sign on a bar saying ‘No Jews or Blacks Allowed’ discriminates against and disadvantages all Jews and blacks, even if they didn’t even want to go into the bar, so Jake Lynch’s BDS academic boycott discriminates and disadvantages all Israeli academics,” he said.

In its Federal Court action, Shurat HaDin will not seek financial penalties, but orders that Professor Lynch renounce BDS and apologise for supporting it.

Professor Lynch is a vocal advocate of the international BDS campaign against Israel, which argues that Israeli government policies claimed to be illegal under international law discriminate against Palestinians.

He made headlines a year ago when Professor Avnon sought permission to use his name as a supporter for an exchange program visit under an agreement between Sydney University and the Hebrew University.

Professor Lynch turned down the request, citing his centre’s support of BDS.

Professor Lynch has told The Australian he will vigorously fight the action. He will be represented by the high-profile barrister Stuart Littlemore QC. He strenuously denies he discriminated against Professor Avnon and points out he wrote him a polite letter saying that his work sounded interesting, but the centre had adopted a principled policy of boycotting Israeli academic institutions.

The Shurat HaDin’s statement of claim alleges that as a result of Professor Lynch’s actions “the number of suitable visiting academic placements for which Professor Dan Avnon could seek a funded academic fellowship at Sydney University has been restricted”.

It claims it also had the effect of “impairing the recognition, enjoyment and exercise of Professor Dan Avnon’s rights to education; freedom of association; freedom of expression; academic freedom, and work”.

“The distinction, exclusion or restriction or preference was based on the fact that Professor Dan Avnon was a Jewish person of Israeli national or ethnic origin,” the statement of claim alleges.

Shurat HaDin claims Professor Lynch has breached not only the Racial Discrimination Act, but also international conventions.

Professor Lynch told The Australian yesterday: “Shurat HaDin appear to forget when I was approached by Professor Dan Avnon it was to ask me for a favour. How I chose to respond to that request was a matter for my discretion. My decision to turn down his request had nothing to do with his religion or nationality. I reserve my right not to co-operate with schemes that provide for institutional links with Israeli universities, to which I object on principle.”

Shurat HaDin’s statement also says that in calling for a boycott of Israel Professor Lynch shares collective responsibility for the entire international BDS campaign and its consequences.

“The calls for boycott target the providers of cultural and sporting services with the effect of pressuring them to implement the boycott calls by refusing to perform in Israel and thus depriving Israeli consumers of access to their services,” it says.

It says two of the applicants, David Hans Lange and Jonathan Rose, and their wives were “deprived of the opportunity to attend the local Israeli public performances of Elvis Costello” because a scheduled performance in 2010 for which they had tickets was cancelled “due to implementation of boycott calls”.


Exclusive: Columbia U joins the chorus denouncing the ASA boycott of Israel

This was received from a faculty member at Columbia University. It is planned to be posted at the Columbia website later today or tomorrow.

I have made my opposition to academic boycotts of Israel emphatically clear over the years, most prominently in my 2007 letter that was signed by some 400 of my fellow college and university presidents speaking out against the British University and College Union’s boycott of Israeli scholars and universities. I stand by that statement today when considering the recent vote by the American Studies Association for just such a boycott. To be sure, it is entirely appropriate for our campuses to provide a forum for discussion and debate about the policies of any government, including our own. But the ASA’s vote runs counter to this essential academic and political freedom and, taken to its logical conclusion, would necessarily result in boycotts of fellow scholars and peer institutions from many nations around the world. I reject the ASA’s position which would compromise an essential value of universities in an increasingly global society-and we look forward to continuing to Columbia’s long history of engagement with our peers from Israel.

– Lee C. Bollinger, President, Columbia University

Columbia now joins dozens of other universities who have denounced the ASA boycott.

The latest list from Avi Mayer:

The following is a list of institutions whose presidents or chancellors have publicly rejected the academic boycott of Israel in recent days. The Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities, which represents 62 top institutions in the U.S. and Canada, has also expressed its strong opposition to the boycott, as has the American Association of University Professors, which counts more than 48,000 members.

In addition, the following institutions’ American Studies programs have withdrawn their membership in the American Studies Association (ASA) following last week’s boycott vote:
Furthermore, the following institutions have flatly denied being institutional members of the ASA, though the organization lists them as such:

There have also been lots of articles denouncing the ASA.

I’m wondering if any universities, at all, will publicly side with the ASA.

More here

4 thoughts on “Jake Lynch’s BDS academic boycott discriminates and disadvantages all Israeli academics”

  1. @Dhumme Dhimmi,

    Unable to read link-unfortunately.

    “’too unwieldy’ for court? ” Erm. Well, how odd a statement, as the law in naturally unwieldly much like bureaucracy, so what is the problem?

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