Prof. Stuart Rees, Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation and Assoc. Prof. Jake Lynch, Director of Sydney University's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), have been threatened with legal action by Shurat HaDin, an Israeli Law Centre, through agents acting on their behalf in Australia.
The claim is that Rees and Lynch are backing racist and discriminatory policies through their support for the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
These accusations are unfounded and intimidatory. They are intended to stifle free speech.
The BDS movement is a call for justice by all sectors of Palestinian civil society and supported around the world by unions, churches, civil society and human rights groups. It is a form of non violent popular resistance and international solidarity in protest against Israel's persistent violation of Palestinian human rights and international law.
BDS policies make it clear that it is a human rights based movement and opposed to racism in all forms, including anti-Semitism.
Inspired by the effective movement against apartheid South Africa, BDS is directed against the illegal military occupation and settlements of the West Bank, the collective punishment of Gaza and Israeli discrimination of its own Palestinian citizens.
BDS opposes corporations, institutions and organizations which support Israel's violation of human rights and international law including businesses such as Caterpillar, Motorola, G4S and Veolia.
In 2009, Assoc. Professor Lynch wrote to the Sydney Vice Chancellor asking him to revoke fellowships schemes between the University of Sydney and two Israeli universities: Technion University, Haifa and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
In 2012, Professor Don Avnon of Hebrew University contacted Assoc. Prof. Lynch, seeking permission to use his name on an application under the Sir Zelman Cowan fellowship program. Prof Lynch refused, citing his and CPACS’ support for a boycott of institutional links with universities in Israel.
By supporting BDS and in resisting derision and threats for doing so, Rees and Lynch have rejected the attempt by a foreign agency – in this case the Israeli law firm Shurat HaDin – to stifle dissent in Australia. This letter invites you to do the same, and in the following terms:
I hereby support the global BDS movement.
I wish to be named a co defendant.