Storm over Israel campus advocate


Jewish academics are blasting the hiring of a coordinator for Israel advocacy for Australian college campuses.

Joel Burnie, 23, was jointly appointed earlier this month as the inaugural student campus coordinator by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council and the U.S.-based campus advocacy organization StandWithUs.

Mark Baker, the director of the Centre for the Study of Jewish Civilization at Monash University in Melbourne, slammed the appointment in an article in this week’s Australian Jewish News, saying it would “doom Jewish academics and students to isolation and defeat.”

“There’s no need to widen the war and bring in proxy mercenaries to torpedo the battle with watchdogs and overseas provocateurs,” Baker wrote.

Dr. Colin Rubenstein, the executive director of AIJAC, blasted Baker’s comments as “misdirected, misconceived and misleading,” according to the Jewish News.

He also denied rumors that AIJAC, a sister organization of the American Jewish Committee, had been sifting through recordings of university lectures for hints of anti-Israel or anti-Jewish bias.

Burnie, who was the Australian Union of Jewish Students president in 2007, denied he was employed as a campus watchdog, saying his role was to promote Israeli culture and Israeli speakers that come to Australia, as well as to further dialogue about Israel on campus.

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