Statement on BDS and publicly-funded bodies

An article in Saturday’s AustralianLibs to cut funding for anti-Israel activists” (May 25) – discussing recent debates about publicly-funded bodies engaging in Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel – briefly quoted from a longer statement from AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein on the subject. As the brief quote in that piece did not and could not fully represent AIJAC’s position, here is AIJAC’s statement on the subject in full:

AIJAC believes that it is obviously inappropriate for publicly-funded bodies to engage in BDS against Israel, and that it is the role of government to make this clear. Academic freedom means individual academics have the right to advocate what they wish. It does not mean that they have the right to turn publicly-funded academic bodies – such as the Sydney University Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies – into activist organisations pursuing political campaigns. This is especially so with respect to campaigns tainted with elements of antisemitism and inimical to Australia’s national interests – as all the principled Australian politicians signing the London Declaration against Antisemitism would attest.

The BDS movement, by boycotting all Israeli academic institutions and their faculty, actually itself violates the fundamental tenets of academic freedom, which calls for free exchange between academics without allowing politics to interfere in this process. Furthermore, it is not appropriate for public funds to be allocated to a centre with a track record of manipulating students in order to further its hateful agenda – as again evidenced by the recent motion passed by the university’s student representative council – thereby fostering a hostile atmosphere for the Jewish students at the University.