Australia/Israel Review


The Last Word: The “On Dit” affair

Sep 29, 2022 | Jeremy Jones

Fired: On Dit editor Habibah Jaghoori (Image: Twitter)
Fired: On Dit editor Habibah Jaghoori (Image: Twitter)

Until a few weeks ago, very few people would have heard of Habibah Jaghoori.

A student of journalism, she has been contributing to, and later co-editing, the Adelaide University Student Union newspaper On Dit over the past three years. 

Her novel sentence structure and fast-and-loose attitude to conventional grammar and syntax make reading much of her writing a challenge. 

Nevertheless, her opinions and beliefs are easy to understand, if difficult to digest.

A piece published in August concluded, “Free Palestine and Death to Israel,” and was posted on Facebook with the additional slogans “Glory to the Intifada. Glory to the Resistance.”

In April, she claimed Israel is “a product of Capitalism’s chokehold on land sovereignty, self-determination and freedom,” telling readers of her opposition to dialogue or peaceful pursuit of Palestinian aims. She signed off, “Glory to the Intifada! InshAllah it will be merciless.”

“Dirty and anti-human behaviour is the culture of Israel,” she wrote, adding, “In Ramadan especially, Israeli forces will make it their mission to tear Palestinian families apart by killing their children.”

Her social media postings also include condemnation of human rights activists in Iran, support for Iranian government brutality and celebration of the permanent Iranian Islamic Revolution.

She includes in her biography that she worked for the Iranian radio station Call to Islam, which is on the more fundamentalist side of the innately fundamentalist Iranian media spectrum.

After her bullying and threatening “Death to Israel” article, it came to light that she had also attempted to stop Australia’s main Jewish student organisation, AUJS, being “established and affiliated onto my campus.”

She claimed, “Someone from the clubs committee has reached out to me saying that they will vote against AUJS (the Jewish Students Union) if there is a statement from a Jewish official.” So, whom did Jaghoori approach to be her co-conspiring Jewish official? That well-known “Jewish leader”, “Rabbi Linda Goldstein, Chief Rabbi of Gaza.”

As David Lange wrote on his Israellycool website, “this person who writes ‘Death to Israel’ is so ignorant and stupid, she believes Gaza… has a ‘Chief Rabbi’!” (“Rabbi Linda Goldstein” is a parody twitter account).

When she became the object of some relatively mild online rebukes over this absurdity, Jaghoori responded, in her particular variation on the English language, “The false Rabbi who reached out to me is an honest mistake but that is so not the point. The point is Israel is a genocidal and apartheid state and Free Palestine.”

Ms Jaghoori was supported by the Students’ Representative Council, after a disgraceful debate in which hate speech and bullying of pro-Israel students was defended. The members of the SRC and others who supported Ms Jaghoori will need to deal with their culpability, having outed themselves as bullies and supporters of an Iranian shill.

Both sides of the South Australian Parliament condemned the On Dit piece. Opposition Leader David Speirs noted, “In the same week that extremists defaced Adelaide’s Holocaust Museum, Jewish students at Adelaide University were stunned to see a majority of their elected SRC representatives supporting the position of the author, who repeatedly shouted the statement ‘death to Israel’ at a meeting.” Premier Peter Malinauskas said the discussion “presented a powerful opportunity for this parliament to condemn antisemitism in all its forms.”

Jaghoori was dismissed from her On Dit position on Sept. 13 by the Student Union (the publisher of On Dit). The Student Union also voted to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism – evidence that the body sought to act responsibly and protect Jewish students from group defamation, harassment and worse.

But, in an abrogation of moral responsibility, the University administration hasn’t yet called out Jaghoori’s behaviour or done anything to protect the victims of recent poisonous developments in the atmosphere on campus. 

The University administration has thus demonstrated a lack of will or ability to protect Jewish students, and a gross failure of leadership in confronting hate speech. They should be ashamed.

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