THERE are fears for the safety of Jewish students at universities across Australia, following a spate of verbal attacks and harassment, which resulted in at least one student being too scared to go to classes and the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) suspending activities at one institution.
Members of the Socialist Alternative are believed to be behind much of the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic vitriol aimed at Jewish students, who have been accused of supporting “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” in Israel.
After a failed attempt to pass an anti-Israel motion at the student union meeting at La Trobe University in Melbourne, posters were put up around the university’s Bundoora campus singling out three students, one of whom is Jewish, who opposed the motion, condemning them for “supporting genocide of Palestinians”.
The names and photographs of the students were included in the poster.
A similar motion by the far left group was proposed on Tuesday at the University of Melbourne student union meeting, but was not debated, or voted on.
According to AUJS, at a recent pro-Palestine rally at La Trobe, participants were allegedly instructed to approach Jewish students and abuse them.
A member of the Socialist Alternative also allegedly singled out a Jewish student and called her a “genocidal pig”, “a Zionist piece of s**t” and told her to “f**k off” at La Trobe.
Following the barrage of abuse, the student stopped attending class for the remainder of the week and AUJS discontinued social and cultural events at the Bundoora campus.
La Trobe University responded by sending out an email to all students condemning “inappropriate conduct” and insisting it took “these matters very seriously”.
La Trobe’s representative Tim Mitchell told The AJN, “The university is aware of some isolated incidents at the Bundoora campus. They are being actively investigated. La Trobe University welcomes free speech and debate but it must take place in the spirit of respect and tolerance.”
AUJS Political Affairs Director Matthew Lesh said, “We have been disappointed by the response from La Trobe, who have chosen a slow bureaucratic investigative process over dealing with the immediate abuse”.
Lesh called for an “immediate suspension of all abusive students implicated” and said, “there is simply no time to waste when the activity remains ongoing and has stopped students from being able to attend class”.
Members of the Socialist Alternative are also understood to have heckled Jewish students at both Monash University and RMIT in Melbourne, with some students complaining of ongoing harassment.
In New South Wales, the University of Sydney Student Representative Council last week passed an anti-Israel resolution condemning Operation Protective Edge, endorsing the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign and accusing Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing.
According to AUJS, during the debate, one Jewish student was referred to as a “genocidal maniac”.
It follows an incident in which university security was called in to remove abusive students from an AUJS stall at the University of Sydney earlier in the week.
“Jewish students are feeling increasingly alienated and disconnected from campus life, the University of Sydney SRC has actively supported this process,” Lesh said.
In University of NSW (UNSW) student publication Tharunka a bogus story that the campus Max Brenner outlet had been the subject of an anti-Israel protest was published.
The article was written as a part of Tharunka’s yearly UNSW Foundation Day prank.
ZOE KRON AND GARETH NARUNSKY