Right-wing pro-Israel agitators threaten free speech on campus
May 2, 2024

The Jewish Council of Australia condemns attacks on students exercising their democratic right to protest.

In the last few days we have seen increasing violent attacks on peaceful student Palestine solidarity encampments at universities across the world. At Monash University in Melbourne, a far right vigilante group holding Israeli and Australian flags raided the encampment, knocking down tents and tables, stealing food and intimidating students. 

At Melbourne University on Thursday a motley group of right-wing zionists, including well known far right agitator Avi Yemini, harassed and taunted peaceful pro-Palestine protesters.

Dr Max Kaiser, Executive Officer, Jewish Council of Australia:

"We call on university leaders to speak up against vigilantism on our campuses from pro-Israel groups aiming to intimidate protesters and instigate conflict. Students in the Gaza solidarity camps are taking a brave and peaceful stand against genocide and should be heard."

"We are deeply concerned that universities are not taking this far right threat seriously. Allowing attacks on peaceful protestors has a chilling effect on our right to free speech." 

"This is not a conflict between Jews and Palestinians. It is a conflict between supporters of Israel and the assault on Gaza, and anti-war, anti-genocide protestors. Many Jews have been part of the Gaza solidarity camps."

Dr Elizabeth Strakosch, Executive Officer, Jewish Council of Australia:

"In the United States right wing Zionists violently attacked students at the pro-Palestine UCLA encampment. We must not allow similar scenes to play out in Australia. Palestinians and pro-Palestine students are being targeted and made unsafe, and yet they are the ones who are being painted by many as threatening. Students must be able to voice their views safely without fear of violence."

"Universities have a critical responsibility in this moment - to uphold democratic values and to make real their claim to be spaces of dissent and intellectual freedom. "

Media contact:

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