The University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council (SRC) passed a motion on Wednesday, April 5 condemning the NSW Young Greens’ (NSWYG) decision to boycott events organised by the Australasian Union for Jewish Students (AUJS).
AUJS represents over 9000 Jewish students across Australia and New Zealand, and its platforms are democratically shaped by over 20 campus affiliates.
NSWYG’s Facebook page describes it as “The youth wing of the NSW Greens”.
The successful SRC motion reads, “this is not about Israel or Palestine, this is boycotting events run for over 9000 Jewish students in Australia, many of whom have little or nothing to do with the situation in Israel/Palestine … There is a clear difference between concerns about Israel, and the boycotting of members of a faith community.”
NSWYG declined an invitation from AUJS to speak at a political networking evening being held on Thursday April 6.
The event organisers invited representatives from the Young Liberals, Labor, Greens, and office bearers from the National Union of Students, with a focus of encouraging students to engage in political processes.
In an email responding to the invitation, which NSWYG posted on their Facebook page, NSWYG Treasurer Eliza James said, “The NSW Young Greens has a long history of declining to attend events by AUJS due to the continued support of the occupation of Palestine by your organisation. I will continue that tradition.”
AUJS released a statement on Thursday condemning the boycott: “to erroneously pigeonhole the entire Jewish student community as ‘supporting the occupation of Palestine’ demonstrates the deep, systematic prejudices which pervade the NSW Young Greens.”
In a post to their Facebook page on Friday, NSWYG responded, “Our response to the recent invitation from AUJS specifically referred to AUJS as an organisation due to their politics, and not Jewish people or students as a whole … The NSW Young Greens support Jewish causes and engage with organisations that do not support the ongoing occupation and military operations in Gaza by the Israeli military.”
They also claimed AUJS supports the occupation, and said, “We broadly condemn any kind of denial or justification of the ongoing violation of the rights of Palestinians.”
In response to this allegation, AUJS National Chairperson Isabella Polgar told Honi, “The characterisation of AUJS as anti-Palestine is wholly false. AUJS has not wavered in its support for a peace that delivers two states for two peoples and meets the legitimate national aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis”.
“AUJS is a proudly pluralistic organisation … By boycotting, the NSW Young Greens have denied like-minded, environmentally and socially progressive Jewish students from feeling welcome in their group unless they denounce their cultural ties to Israel. No other religious, ethnic or racial minority would have their ability to self-define their cultural identity questioned by members of the Young Greens,” Polgar said.
Honi reached out to NSWYG for comment but they had not responded by the time of publication.