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Jewish Council of Australia: Pro-Palestine college protests are not threat to Jewish students, staff

April 29, 2024 at 5:02 pm

People attend the demonstration organised every Sunday since the beginning of the Israeli attacks continued in Melbourne, Australia on April 07, 2024 [Recep Sakar – Anadolu Agency]

The Jewish Council of Australia has strongly rejected the claims that university encampments in support of Palestinians against Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip are a threat to Jewish students and staff, Anadolu Agency reports.

In a statement released Sunday, the group recalled that students in Australia established encampments at their universities in solidarity with Palestinians last week.

Stating that the students joined the dozens of solidarity camps established across the US and elsewhere in recent weeks, the statement said: “Like their peers, Australian students are calling on their institutions to end relationships with weapons companies that are enabling Israeli war crimes, and urging our government to sanction Israel and cut military ties.”

“The Jewish Council of Australia strongly rejects the claims that these protests are a threat to Jewish students and staff,” it added.

WATCH: Columbia University student returns to protest following arrest and eviction

The statement also said: “Attempting to silence or censor these protests by deceitfully accusing them of anti-Semitism is a dangerous overreach that, if acted upon, risks stifling free speech on campuses.”

Elizabeth Strakosch, the executive Director of the Jewish Council of Australia, said the right to peaceful protest is a fundamental democratic freedom.

“We should be proud of all of the students, many of whom are Jews, who are speaking out against this unfolding genocide,” said Strakosch. “The student protests against the unfolding genocide in Gaza are legitimate expressions of political speech and human rights advocacy.”

Students at the Columbia University have inspired students around the world to stage a sit-in on the campus lawn to protest financial investments in companies that support war in Gaza.

In many countries, including the US, Australia, France and Egypt, thousands of students have organised demonstrations at their universities in solidarity with Palestine.

Israel has waged a brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip since a cross-border attack by the Palestinian group, Hamas, on 7 October, last year, which Tel Aviv says killed nearly 1,200 people.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

More than 34,400 Palestinians have since been killed, mostly women and children, and 77,575 others injured amid mass destruction and severe shortages of necessities.

More than six months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins, pushing 85 per cent of the enclave’s population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water, and medicine, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which, in January, issued an interim ruling that ordered it to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

READ: Potential US presidential candidate Cornel West jumps over fence to join student sit-in