On September 4, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) wrote to the Vice-Chancellor and President of the Australian National University Professor Ian Young AO, to raise concerns regarding the one-sided nature of the “Human Rights in Palestine Conference” that runs from 10-12 September.
The letter, signed by AIJAC Chairman Mark Leibler AC and Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein AM, stated:
“It is evident from the conference website that the conference’s principal aim is to engage in unadulterated vilification of Israel and to support the Palestinian ’cause’ – not to engage in serious academic debate or inquiry about the current state and future status of the West Bank and Gaza.
Looking at the conference program, there appears to be no attempt to have a balanced speakers’ list or offer a variety of views. This calls into question how this can be a genuine academic conference with a free exchange of opinions and a balanced range of invited participants and thus entitled to university funding. It is contrary to the ANU’s fine tradition of dispassionate academic integrity and educational excellence to host such a conference.
Many of the keynote speakers are well known for long-standing hostility to Israel. The most notorious example is Richard Falk, who is heavily promoted as a conference drawcard. In recent months, Falk has been widely condemned by such dignitaries as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and by the US, UK and Canadian Governments, for blaming the Boston terrorist attack on the alleged ‘American global domination project’ and ‘Tel Aviv.’…
There appears to have been no attempt whatsoever to invite scholars with a different perspective – such as the dozens of notable experts in international human rights law from Israeli universities.”
The letter included a request for the ANU to explain how the conference and the invitation to Mr. Falk came to be endorsed and funded by the ANU.