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Sydney University student council call for academic boycott of Israel is challenged

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SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – An Australian Jewish students union launched an online drive to rescind a Sydney University student council resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel.

The Australasian Union of Jewish Students started a petition this week on change.org to rescind the motion by the university’s Student Representative Council. The council voted last week in favor of a boycott of Israeli institutions.

Andrew Goldberg, national chairman of the students union, said the resolution was “an attempt to force the extremist, anti-Israel BDS policy onto the entire student body without a mandate.” He branded the student council’s resolution “a stain on The University of Sydney’s history.”

Part of the boycott resolution reads, “All academic co-operation [is] to be cut with Technion University in Haifa.”

In a heated debate, supporters of the motion claimed the Technion was associated with the Israel Defense Forces as well as weapons manufacturers.

The countering petition says, “The Technion is at the forefront of the world in medicine, sciences, engineering and technology. Universities in Australia should be promoting exchange with such institutions, with the shared view of bettering the world.”

Philip Chester, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, said the campaign had been compared to those at Cornell University in the United States and McGill University in Canada.

“However, neither institution caved in to such pressures by terminating its relationship with the Technion,” he said.

Sydney University spokesman Andrew Potter said, "The vice chancellor and the university welcome student debate and opinion but disagree with the SRC on this issue."

Meanwhile, plans to open a Max Brenner chocolate shop at the University of New South Wales, also in Sydney, have been attacked by Students for Palestine, which launched a campaign this week against the Israeli-owned chain, The Australian newspaper reported

The group claims that Max Brenner is complicit in “war crimes” because it is owned by the Strauss Group, which produces goods for the Israeli military.
 

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