Melbourne University Students’ Union revives motion calling for Israeli schools to be banned

Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns said any threat to take legal action against anyone who criticizes Israel or supports the Palestinians “represents a serious attack on freedom of expression”.

UMSU president Sophie Nguyen said the union and its predecessor organizations had maintained a 130-year tradition of students standing up on human rights issues, including in international affairs.

“This is consistent with the purpose, mission and values ​​of UMSU,” she said.

The union is an autonomous body that operates as a separate entity from the university. It has about 35,000 members.

Nguyen said the final motion would be considered on Monday, following the same process as all valid student motions.

“UMSU recently engaged an independent agency to facilitate a consultation process with relevant stakeholders, including relevant pro-Palestinian and Jewish organizations on campus,” she said.


The union previously awarded $8,000 for legal costs and said it would not comment on legal matters but ‘deplores and denounces bigotry and hate speech in all its forms’ and that its ‘top priority is safety and well-being of all students.

The new motion came after Students for Palestine UniMelb – which has Jewish, Palestinian and Aboriginal members – organized Israeli Apartheid Week at the university, calling on it to divest from Israel.

Organizer Emma Dynes said the event was intended to draw attention to the importance of solidarity with the Palestinians – a “tangible issue” as the management of the University of Melbourne was in partnership with Lockheed Martin, ” one of the largest arms suppliers to the Israeli army”.

Natalie Gunn, president of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students, said she vehemently opposed the new motion and rejected the “totally false and ridiculous version of history” set out in the motion. She said it would lead to “more anti-Semitism on campus.”

In early May, a spokesperson for the University of Melbourne condemned the original motion as anti-Semitic and said it was “not the position of the University of Melbourne; nor is it endorsed or supported by the university”.

The union’s motions follow actions by international universities and student unions, including Harvard, as part of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement.

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