Officials from the University of Melbourne in Australia have condemned an “anti-Semitic motion” recently passed by the school’s student union that calls for a boycott of Israeli universities and academics.

The resolution, passed 10-6 by the Student Union on April 29, also accused Israel of “massacres, forced expulsion and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians”; calls Zionism “a racist, colonial ideology”; and voices support for Palestinians “to engage in self-defense against their occupiers.”

“The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) is a self-governing body and operates as a separate entity to the university,” a university spokesperson told the Australian Jewish news outlet J-Wire on Wednesday. “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 representative also said that “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,” the spokesperson added. “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.”

The university’s statement was welcomed and applauded by a number of Australian Jewish groups, including the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Jewish Community Council of Victoria, Zionism Victoria, the Zionist Federation of Australia and the Australia Israel & Jewish Affairs Council. The groups also urged the university to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism, which the government adopted in October.

Students in Melbourne were not the only ones issuing an anti-Semitic proposal in recent days. According to a report in the Australian Jewish News, the University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council this week passed a “one-sided motion encouraging student activists to take part in a ‘Nakba’ solidarity demonstration organized by the Palestine Action Group.”

Nakba is the term Palestinians use to describe the “catastrophe” of modern-day Israel.


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