The scholar BDS tried to stop

JAKE Lynch should “back off from his ludicrous misuse of his academic position” to promote his personal politics, Hebrew University academic Professor Dan Avnon says.

In 2012 Lynch, the director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, infamously cited his support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as the reason for his refusal to support Avnon with an application for a Sir Zelman Cowen Scholarship to conduct research in Australia.

“I was surprised that the head of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies promotes a policy of division and lack of communication, which is the exact opposite of how I operate,” Avnon, who has now commenced the fellowship, told The AJN.

“I make a point of meeting people I do not agree with … I don’t have to agree with you [but] I’ve got to understand you.”

A political theorist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Avnon has developed Israel’s only civics curriculum designed for both Jewish and Arab school students.

“My work since 2001 is oriented towards creating a common civic language,” he said.

“It means that if you grew up in an Arabic-speaking household or if you grew up in a Hebrew-speaking household with various traditions, you come up with your own cultural identity but you enter a shared civic space … a shared civic language when we say rule of law, democracy, justice, equality.”

While at the University of Sydney, Avnon will look at how Australia deals with issues relating to democratic civic education and “in light of past experiences”.

“How does the present generation deal with the historical and cultural differences that they inherited from past generations,” he explained.

“There are layers of memories and incidents, and how do you work that out when you want to have a future society where people live together?

“I’ll come out of here with something that will make my work more relevant.”

Avnon said Sydney Jewry has so far been a “very welcoming and warm community”.

Avnon said he is looking forward to participating in a panel discussion with Together for Humanity CEO Rabbi Zalman Kastel, hosted by Encounters@Shalom. “I think that what we would like to do there is look at Jewish perspectives on cultural religious and ethnic difference for the two different places that we come from.

“Both of us have to deal with diversity, with plurality, with difference. How do you do it within an independent Jewish state, how do you it within Australia, as a Jew?” he said.


Hebrew University academic Professor Dan Avnon