A Response to Shurat HaDin’s Threats against Sydney University Staff

On May 19 The Australian reported on a meeting of the the Sydney University branch of the NTEU, at which members expressed support for Jake Lynch’s intellectual freedom, and voted to commence a discussion as to the desirability of endorsing the BDS campaign. The Australian’s article quotes Shurat HaDin lawyer Andrew Hamilton’s threat that if they were to do so, the staff union would be “next in the firing line”, and that his firm would “supply the ammunition.” In response to these threats, the following letter was published in The Australian on May 20.

Bullying over BDS

THE threat by Shurat HaDin lawyer Andrew Hamilton that Sydney University staff will be next in the firing line shows that he prefers bullying and intimidation over rational discussion (“Jewish group warns uni on BDS”, 19/5).

Like Shurat HaDin’s Federal Court case against Jake Lynch, these tactics are intended to drain critics of resources, and silence other advocates of the peaceful boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.

In coming to Lynch’s defence, Sydney University’s National Tertiary Education Union is upholding members’ rights to a working environment free of such harassment, as any union should. Its resolution, moreover, is in line with the university’s administration which recognises Lynch’s support for BDS as a legitimate exercise of his intellectual freedom.

NTEU members have voted to begin a broad discussion on the issues surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict, and in particular the university’s links to Israeli institutions. These ties do not exist in an ethical vacuum. Our institution’s global conduct is a matter that staff have every right to discuss and take positions on — up to and including support for BDS.

David Brophy, history lecturer, Sydney University, NSW