Friday, 25 April 2014

26/3: Israeli case against academic Jake Lynch an ‘overreach’

Israeli case against academic Jake Lynch an ‘overreach’

AN Israeli legal group’s test case against University of Sydney academic Jake Lynch over his support for boycotts of Israel was a “pumped up claim” with so much “overreach” that he is being blamed for depriving Israelis of seeing rapper Snoop Dogg, a court heard yesterday.
Federal Court judge Alan Robertson also expressed doubts about the presentation of Shurat HaDin’s case, which he said often lacked clear facts to link Professor Lynch’s promotion of the boycott, divestments, sanctions campaign to specific alleged acts of racial discrimination.
Professor Lynch’s lawyer, Yves Hazan, yesterday argued for Shurat HaDin’s statement of claim to be thrown out, saying it lacked sufficient specifics of “when, where, how, and by whom” Professor Lynch had breached the Racial Discrimination Act.
Shurat HaDin launched the case against Professor Lynch, who heads the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, after he declined to support Professor Dan Avnon, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for a Sir Zelman Cowen fellowship.
Shurat HaDin says Professor Lynch’s action had the effect of “impairing the recognition, enjoyment and exercise of Professor Dan Avnon’s rights to education; freedom of association; freedom of expression; academic freedom, and work”.
“The distinction, exclusion or restriction or preference was based on the fact that Professor Dan Avnon was a Jewish person of Israeli national or ethnic origin,” the statement of claim says.
Mr Hazan told the court this argument was undermined by the fact that Professor Avnon is now in Sydney having taken up such a fellowship, after another Sydney University department sponsored him.
Professor Lynch has vigorously denied his action in relation to Professor Avnon was racially based, saying it only reflected his centre’s policy of not engaging with Israeli academic institutions, in support of Palestinians he believed were being illegally persecuted by Israel.
Shurat HaDin further claims that voicing support for BDS pressures international performers to refuse to appear in Israel, and cited actors Meg Ryan and Dustin Hoffman, and musicians Snoop Dogg and Elvis Costello.
Mr Hazan said that for Shurat HaDin’s lawyer Andrew Hamilton to suggest Professor Lynch had been instrumental in the decision of such performers not to go to Israel was “just overreach”.
“He’s just got to do better than that, your Honour,” Mr Hazan said. Mr Hamilton said that because the case was about human rights it did not have to rely on the “technicalities” of high quality factual pleadings, but rather the “substantive case”.
“You’ll have to do a lot of work to persuade me of the correctness of that proposition,” Justice Robertson told Mr Hamilton.
He adjourned the case until April 24.

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