At last, the case of Sydney University's Professor Jake Lynch has made it into the Sydney Morning Herald in the form of an article by Richard Ackland on Attorney-General George Brandis' plan to strip the Racial Discrimination Act of its prohibition on 'offending and insulting' ethnic/racial minorities (section 18C) in the interests of professional offenders such as Murdoch mouthpiece Andrew Bolt. Needless to say, Brandis will be spinning it as a blow for free speech.
Ackland makes the perfectly valid point that:
"What is now a distressing hypocrisy surrounding the campaign to reform or do away with section 18C of the act is that its advocates are generally the same people cheering on the use of the act as the basis of proceedings in the Federal Court against University of Sydney academic Jake Lynch. He is being sued under different provisions of the act by Shurat HaDin - the Israel Law centre. The application was filed last October and it alleges that Lynch, from the Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies, refused to support an application by Israeli academic Dan Avnon for a Zelman Cowan fellowship at the University of Sydney. It is claimed that in an act of racial discrimination, he deprived Avnon of his professional rights. Lynch is a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. The Shurat HaDin statement of claim goes further and says that by calling for a boycott of Israel, Lynch adds to a campaign that disadvantages owners of Israeli-related businesses and deprives Israelis of cultural opportunities such as seeing Santana and Pink Floyd. Avnon, of the Hebrew University does not seem to have suffered a setback as a result of Lynch's lack of support. He lists on his resume, among his forthcoming appointments, that he will be the Sir Zelman Cowan visiting scholar at the University of Sydney this year. So, on the one hand the act is evil for affecting the free speech in the narrow provisions that deal with offending and insulting ethnic and racial minorities, but is heroic when its broad provisions are engaged as a basis of proceedings against lefty academics in the BDS movement. The whole thing could land Brandis in a bit of a pickle." (Free speech is a double-edged sword, 17/1/14)
Ackland lists a number of organisations - Aboriginal, Greek, Chinese etc - who have been lobbying Senator Brandis not to ditch 18C. Included in the list is the professionally offended Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).
Its involvement in this issue, of course, raises the perennial question of whether Jews, as a purely faith community, should be so involved.
On the other hand, if Jews are seen as an ethnic/racial community, in line with the Zionist 'Jewish people' dogma, which ECAJ subscribes to, one wonders whether Ackland understands that ECAJ, as an organisation that wishes to retain 18C but is part and parcel of the Zionist/Murdoch attack on BDS and its proponents such as Professor Lynch, is also in something of a pickle, its unconvincing attempt to distance itself from Shurat HaDin's litigation by describing it as "inappropriate and counter-productive" notwithstanding.
As Shurat HaDin's Australian operative, Andrew (Akiva) Hamilton, has said:
"There is more than one way to confront BDS and our efforts complement those of the ECAJ." (Shurat HaDin, ECAJ disagree on skinning the BDS cat, j-wire.com.au, 3/11/13)
Took the words right out of my mouth, Akiva! As Irgun leader Menachem Begin might have said in the late 40s: 'There is more than one way to deal with the British and the Arabs, and our efforts complement those of the Haganah nicely, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean?'
Still, all credit to Ackland for raising the case of Jake Lynch. I hope he reports on the coming court case in February.