On Tuesday Oct 29th, 2 Israeli based organisations and three individuals made an application to the Australian Federal Court against Professor Jake Lynch. The case is Shurat HaDin – The Israel Law Center & Ors v Jake Lynch, NSD2235/2013.
The applicants are: Shurat HaDin, Green Freedom Limited (Israel Company Number 514 331 479), Andrew Hamilton, David Hans Lange and Jonathan Rose. The following media alert was released as a result of this action and prior to a press conference on Wed Oct 30th led by Professor Stuart Rees and Associate Professor Peter Slezak (Professor Jake Lynch is currently overseas on sabbatical leave).
Australian academic faces lawfare attack
The right to criticize the policies of another country is at stake.
Today an Israeli based law centre, Shurat HaDin, filed a case in the Federal Court of Australia, against Professor Jake Lynch from the University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. They claim that he has supported policies which are racist and discriminatory by his specific endorsement of an academic boycott of Israeli institutions and individuals within them, because of these institutions’ support of the illegal occupation of Palestine and their close connections with the Israeli armament industry.
This lawfare attack against academic freedom and freedom of speech has been condemned by over 2000 Australian and international human rights advocates from some 60 countries, who have all signed a pledge supporting BDS and offering to be co-defendants in any legal action taken against Lynch.
Shurat HaDin has taken many similar actions internationally against groups who supported the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. Professor Stuart Rees comments,
“It seems that this firm, Shurat HaDin works in the civil courts as a proxy for the Israeli government and security forces, seeking to shut down any criticism of the state and its ongoing human rights abuses and violations of international law.”
In August, Shurat HaDin lodged a complaint in the Human Rights Commission against Jake Lynch’s refusal to sponsor an Israeli academic from the Hebrew University because of that institution’s links to the Israeli military and the ongoing Occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza.
This overseas firm now wants to silence this highly regarded academic, by taking their complaint to the Federal Court. This challenges the right to take non violent action in support international human rights law and the rights of the dispossessed Palestinians. Australians for BDS condemns racism in all forms, and specifically anti-Semitism.
“Israel’s occupation and ethnic cleansing machinery continue unabated but the moral force that used to drive that process is fast eroding and, as out of touch as the Abbott government and anti-BDS activists in Australia may be, there is an undeniable shift in the balance of moral power. .. International civil society is holding Israel to account in a way no government has ever been able to do”......Randa Abdul Fattah, Palestinian lawyer and writer resident in Sydney.
Professor Jake Lynch released the following statement which was read at the press conference on Wed Oct 30th in Sydney.
“I am confident we will successfully fight off this despicable attack on freedom of expression, which is backed ultimately by the Israeli security state. The Shurat HaDin law centre has links to the Israeli National Security Council, and the Mossad, and has admitted in the past being directed by them as to which targets to pursue. That makes this attempt to subvert political debate in Australia all the more sinister.
In respect of the claims by Shurat HaDin, the boycott policy I wrote for CPACS, after a public meeting held at the University of Sydney, was carefully conceived to avoid discrimination, being confined to a request to the Vice Chancellor to revoke institutional links with two Israeli universities. And when I turned down the request by Professor Dan Avnon, to use my name on his application under one of those same schemes, I was (a) not in a position to prevent his coming to Sydney, since he had only to collect two names as host academics out of 3,000 at the University and (b) using my discretion - in effect, being asked for a favour. The law cannot require me to use my discretion in a particular way or it ceases to be discretion!”
A number of opinion pieces have been published recently outlining the issues raised by this action and we have posted links to them below. Your support and pledge to be a co-defendant in this case represents a strong stand against this unfounded and spurious lawfare attack by Shurat HaDin. It is unlikely that this organisation will desire to co-join any other defendants, but your ongoing support is crucial as Australians for BDS fights this foreign organisations’ attempts to gag free speech and academic freedom in Australia.
Please encourage others to sign onto the pledge and leave their comments on the site. And if you are an academic, please encourage your colleagues to sign on with their title eg. Prof, Dr., as we will be contacting all academics shortly to sign a statement of support for Professor Jake Lynch.