Student activism in NSW seems to be taking a dark turn....it would not be especially surprising to hear that the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel ('BDS') movement is steeped in antisemitism.
While BDS supporters always claim that this is not the case, time and time and time again its prominent figureheads slip into overt Jew-hatred, and other BDS supporters consistently circle their wagons to defend the bigots.
In recent days, students at the University of New South Wales ('UNSW') have seen perhaps the most publicly explicit example of this phenomenon to rear its ugly head on Australian shores. A bizarre collective of Muslim students, students from the extreme left, prominent Muslim community leader Rebecca Kay, and "Jihad Sheila" Raisah Douglas, have come together – united only by their sheer hatred of Jews in general and Israelis in particular.
This all took place on the Facebook page for an event entitled 'Rally! Say no to Max Brenner at UNSW'. As the name suggests, the event, organised by a group calling itself 'Students for Justice in Palestine, UNSW' (SJP UNSW), is to protest the opening of a branch of the wholly Australia-owned Max Brenner Australia on campus at UNSW.
There was a brief report about the event by Ean Higgins in the this morning, however the print report did not mention hate speech at all, and the online version only mentions it in passing:
The rally's organiser, computer science student Damian Ridgwell, said he expected a big turnout, with speakers to include Palestinian students and a "Jewish anti-zionist" female student. "The aim is to raise awareness of the campaign for Palestinians to obtain liberation and justice," he said.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff said protesting against a Max Brenner outlet "is as immoral and counterproductive a tactic as is BDS in general". ... "As for the appalling racist invective on Facebook which has accompanied this issue, the less said the better." Mr Ridgwell said some Facebook posts did not reflect the views of the organisers.Otherwise, Higgins referred only to the "robust exchanges" on the Facebook page. As screenshots obtained by AIJAC from numerous Jewish students indicate, to refer to the vitriol on that page as "robust exchanges" is a severe understatement.
Below is a breakdown of what took place.
The main perpetrators of throughout have been Aussie ex-pat Raisah Douglas and University of Sydney graduate Aymen Shalak. While Shalak is no public figure, Douglas has quite a profile. She first came into the spotlight when her husband was arrested in America on terrorism charges, but became widely-known in Australia as one of the "Jihad Sheilas" profiled in a 2008 ABC documentary.
Shalak was posting under the moniker 'Ayms Machiine', and Douglas began posting under her own name, but after she became aware that screenshots were being taken of her comments, quickly changed her screen name to 'Umm Ayaan' (meaning simply 'mother of Ayaan').
Shortly after some students opposed to the boycott began challenging comments on the page, Douglas posted this particularly nasty comment, saying that her Catholic grandmother had taught her "as a youngster about the evil greedy money loving nature of Jews", and that she had "hated em [sic] ever since".
An apparently Jewish student named 'Rachel Rothstein' very quickly took a screenshot of the comment and posted her own comment on the page protesting the antisemitism. Douglas immediately rushed to defend what she had said:
An interesting character who then appeared was Sydney Muslim community leader Rebecca Kay, who came under mild criticism last year for accusing non-Jewish journalist Joe Hildebrand of criticising the Muslim community in Australia because he was a Jew.
Posting as 'Rebecca Forbankstown', Kay joined the harassment of Rothstein, whilst mentioning nothing about the racist abuse to which Rothstein was being subjected. It was not until the next evening that Kay noted that things were "getting out of hand" (this will be featured in a subsequent post).Also defending Najjarine was Shalak, who ridiculed Rothstein's plea for the antisemitism to stop.
Immediately undermining this was a flurry between Rothstein and Shalak, essentially consisting of Shalak hurling both sexual and racial abuse at Rothstein, including the unambiguously racist "sue me jew".
If there was any sincerity in the plea from the organisers, it had fallen on deaf ears, and certainly been poorly implemented.
All of the posts in the ongoing debate around the doctored image not only remained, but had been added to. After a gibe by Rothstein that the image was a fake, Shalak responded with "so is the Holocaust."
Rothstein again denounced Shalak's antisemitism and noted that the event's organisers had been deleting comments other than the antisemitic ones, but that the antisemitic ones remained. This prompted Douglas to tell Rothstein to "stop being a dickhead" and not to play the "anti Semite [sic] card". This from the woman who had recently been discussing how she had hated the Jews since childhood.
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