Non-Jewish Student Threatens to Sue Melbourne University Student Union Over Anti-Israel Motion

Over a week ago, I blogged about the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) passing an antisemitic, pro-terrorism motion. I was disappointed with the reactions from Jewish and Zionist organizations who, although condemning it as antisemitic, did not point out how it was pro-terrorism.

Now a non-Jewish student at the university is doing more than just condemning it. He’s lawyering up! (hat tip: Joshua)

A Melbourne University student intends to launch legal action against the student union, demanding it rescinds a controversial motion calling for the university to boycott Israel.

Postgraduate law student Justin Riazaty, 21, has engaged pro bono lawyers and has sent a letter of demand to the University of Melbourne Student Union relating to a motion that was passed on April 29. He is also gathering signatures for an open class-action lawsuit.

The motion called for the university, one of Australia’s top-ranked tertiary institutions, to launch an academic boycott and cut ties with “Israeli institutions, researchers and academics that support the Israeli oppression of Palestinians”. It also called for divestment from corporations involved with Israel.

Riazaty said the union, of which he is a member, had until 4pm on May 17 to rescind their motion, to admit it went against the union’s purposes and to draft an apology to be approved by Riazaty and then published on their social media channels to avoid legal action.

Riazaty, a Liberal Party member who is not Jewish but claims to have has many friends who are, said he believed the student union acted outside of its purpose as a student union (violating the Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012) and alleges it violated the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001. He said while it affected Jewish students and people who supported Israel, there was “a bigger injustice here”.

“This sets a precedent,” he said. “I felt I couldn’t let this go and stand by and do nothing.”

“A student representative body is for all students, not a particular group of students. You as an individual may feel a certain way and are more than welcome to share your views but when it’s coming from a body which has defined purposes to support all students, it changes the game a little bit. It’s supposed to be independent. It’s a very different set of circumstances,” he claimed.

“Positions on complex student political issues, I don’t think falls into what their scope or what they are supposed to be doing,” he said.

Not all Jewish heroes wear capes. And not all Jewish heroes are Jewish.

And it seems that Justin is all-in when it comes to his support for the Jewish people – he has been secretary of the Melbourne University Jewish Students Society.


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