The Australian Jewish News
May 11, 2023
Communal leaders have condemned a “concerning” video posted by University of Sydney student Freya Leach from inside a Student’s Representative Council meeting.
In the video, Leach is physically obstructed from attempting to display an Israeli flag while students around her chant, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” – a Hamas, anti-Israel rallying cry.
While The AJN understands suggestions Jewish students were prevented from speaking at the meeting were incorrect, Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) president Alissa Foster told The AJN that student politics should be a space for all to feel safe, “not to be targeted or alienated”.
“We know that those who claim to represent students at the University of Sydney have only become more performative in their activism in recent years, often at the expense of communities like ours,” Foster said.
“This behaviour, rarely caught on camera, does the opposite of encouraging student activism and engagement, instead it signifies nothing other than marginalising so many students on campus.”
Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said, “This video is very concerning coming from a university that prides itself on freedom of speech. In addition, the mob’s chant is a call to ethnically cleanse Jews. While student unions are often a law unto themselves, they are still beholden to the university charter, which this behaviour clearly breached.”
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark condemned the scenes as “hateful and utterly appalling”, noting the USYD SRC has “demonstrated a history of divisive activism”.
“We urge the University of Sydney administration to remind its SRC that it has a duty of care to students, and to ensure that racist, intimidating, abusive or threatening behaviours are not tolerated on campus,” Bark said.
The AJN understands Bark met with USYD vice-chancellor Mark Scott and other senior USYD representatives in December last year and is in discussions with the university on a number of issues of importance to the community.