UMSU Motion Condemned as “Antisemitic.” But It Was Worse Than That.

Last week, the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) passed the following motion:

In the late 1800s, Political Zionism was born to establish a Jewish home in Historic Palestine, disregarding the Indigenous Palestinians living there. This colonial project has led to the establishment of the state of Israel, the blockade of Gaza and the occupa#on of the West Bank through massacres, forced expulsion and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Israel has been deemed as a se8ler colonial apartheid state. It continuously denies the native Palestinians of their right to self-determination, freedom, dignity and equality. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges ac#on to pressure Israel to comply with interna#onal law.

With the recent bombing of Gaza, Israel has carried out a police raid at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Israeli forces have detained 500+ and injured 170+ Palestinians in Jerusalem since the beginning of Ramadan. These Palestinians were simply congrega#ng and praying at the mosque, which is one of the few remaining public spaces for Pales#nians in Jerusalem.

Students in Palestine and around the world have been key participants in the fight against the illegal occupation of Palestine, protesting, organizing, and creating a discussion on respective campuses. Many student unions and associations across Europe, North America, and Australia have formally endorsed BDS or some version of solidarity, it’s long overdue for a clear and firm stance by UMSU on these crimes.
Policy, UMSU stances and actions:

General Stance:
UMSU stands against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and condemns the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians

UMSU supports the self-determination of the Palestine people and their right to engage in self-defence against their occupiers

UMSU deems Zionism as a racist, colonial ideology UMSU rejects Israel’s continued settlement, expansion, and annexation of Palestinian land

UMSU condemns the Australian government’s support for Israel and its ongoing crimes including occupation, settlement, expansion, and ethnic cleansing.

UMSU condemns any and all forms of antisemitism against students of the Jewish faith and stands in solidarity with Jewish students.

UMSU recognises that Israel’s actions are not representative of the Jewish community. Similarly, Israel’s crimes are its responsibility alone and not that of Jewish people worldwide.

UMSU strongly endorses that Judaism and Zionism are not to be conflated as one

Academic Boycott:

UMSU supports the academic boycott movement of Israeli institutions

UMSU calls on the university to participate in an academic boycott and cut ties with Israeli institutions, researchers, and academics that support the Israeli oppression of Palestinians

Divestment Actions and support:

UMSU calls on the university to divest from corporations complicit in and profit from the Israel apartheid
Direct the CEO to update the UMSU ethical register and boyco8 companies that support and profit from the Israeli apartheid in line with the BDS Australia organization guidelines.

UMSU publishes a statement prepared by the UMSU POC department and relevant student groups announcing this policy and its support for Palestnian rights.

To direct the General Secretary to update the UMSU stance booklet to reflect this policy and subsequent vote on it.

To direct the President and POC officer to send a letter of support to the Australian Centre for International Justice affirming UMSU’s support for Palestine on behalf of UMSU.

The motion has been celebrated by the likes of BDS Australia and denounced by Jewish and Zionist groups:

In a letter also on behalf of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, the Zionist Federation of Australia, the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) and the Australian Zionist Youth Council to the university’s chancellor and vice-chancellor, Zionism Victoria urged the University of Melbourne “to condemn the resolution as a matter of urgency”.

“While we have no issue with the union expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people, much of the content of the resolution is not only factually inaccurate and inflammatory, it is also, unquestionably, antisemitic,” the letter said.

“As for terminology such as “ethnic cleansing” and “apartheid”, no one is denying that there are inequalities in Israeli society – as there are in any society – but the use of these terms is not only blatantly wrong, it is antisemitic and likely to incite racial hatred.

“The threat the resolution poses to Jewish students, the likelihood that it will incite racial hatred, the antisemitic nature of its claims, and the falsehoods on which they are based – a statement from the university’s senior leadership would send a critical signal that the University of Melbourne does not tolerate the marginalisation of minorities on campus and will not condone any manifestation of antisemitism.”

And the University of Melbourne itself agrees.

The University of Melbourne has reacted to the anti-Zionist motion passed by the Students Council last week which also called for an academic boycott.

A spokesperson for the university told J-Wire: “The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) is a self-governing body and operates as a separate entity to the University.

This anti-Semitic motion, narrowly passed in a vote by 16 members of the UMSU Students’ Council, is not the position of the University of Melbourne; nor is it one that is endorsed or supported by the University.

The University of Melbourne is deeply committed to the values of inclusion and respect, and all members of our community must feel welcome and safe from discrimination or racism. Any form of anti-Semitism is antithetical to who we are and what we stand for. Tackling it and its damaging effects is a responsibility of all members of our community.

Jewish students and staff are valued members of our University, along with our Jewish alumni and friends. We are proud of our relationships with the Jewish community in Australia and across the world, and our academic partnerships with Israeli universities and scholars.

Similarly, academic freedom and freedom of speech are core values of the University of Melbourne as outlined in our Freedom of Speech Policy, which applies to students, staff and visitors of the University. We expect all members of our community to exercise these rights respectfully.”

I welcome the statements by the Zionist and Jewish groups, as well as the University of Melbourne, and I do not want to be that guy that nitpicks – but they seem to have missed something very significant.

The UMSU motion came out in support of terrorism:

UMSU supports the self-determination of the Palestine people and their right to engage in self-defence against their occupiers

“Self-defense” in their minds includes those rockets from Gaza and other murderous attacks perpetrated against Israeli Jews. Those are things they do not mention in their motion, which implies the “recent bombing of Gaza” happened in a vacuum (it was in response to rockets) and the Israeli “police raid at the Al Aqsa Mosque” was against palestinians “congrega#ng and praying” (they were engaged in violence).

How did everyone miss this?

I would also add that the Zionist and Jewish groups responded to the lies of “ethnic cleansing” and “apartheid” (an essentially defensive position), but did not mention the big “indigenous” palestinian lie. We need to be proudly proclaiming our indigenous status, and putting the other side on the defensive about their claim that is completely disproven by history. We need to be pointing at them as the real colonizers, which they are.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media