15 January 2014

SYDNEY University is again under fire over staff conduct

From The Australian, 16/1/14, by Christian Kerr:

SYDNEY University is again under fire over staff conduct, in the wake of a meeting between emeritus professor Stuart Rees and Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal in Doha last month.
Stuart Rees

...[Stuart] Rees is director of the Sydney Peace Foundation, the group behind the Sydney Peace Prize, part of the university's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and a prominent supporter of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. He wrote about "an informal conversation" with Mr Meshaal at a conference on Palestine on the website of the Doha-based Al Jazeera news network last week.

Mr Meshaal is the political leader of Hamas and has been based in Qatar since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria. He has said his organisation will not renounce violence, arguing it is legally resisting an occupation. Hamas does not recognise the state of Israel and the destruction of the Jewish state is within its charter.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne yesterday voiced concern about the meeting.
"This matter, along with the matters raised involving Tim Anderson and Jake Lynch, are issues to which the vice-chancellor should turn his attention on his return in order to satisfy himself that the academic standing of Sydney University and its international reputation is unharmed," he said.

Jake Lynch

Sydney University political economy professor Tim Anderson met with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad last month and academic Jake Lynch, also at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, is defending a racial discrimination charge over his decision to turn back an Israeli academic who sought his help with a fellowship application.

Michael Danby, the parliamentary secretary to Bill Shorten, said he could not understand why the university continued to support the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

Liberal MP Andrew Nikolic, a former UN military observer in the Middle East, also called for action from the university.
"This is not a question about academic freedom," he said. "It is about brand protection."
...Hamas's Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades is listed as a terrorist organisation under Australian law but contact with the broader movement is not illegal.

...Sydney University acting vice-chancellor Stephen Garton defended Professor Rees.

"While we do not agree with his views, he has not broken the law or infringed our policies," he said.