The Sydney University Student Representative Council has passed a motion condemning the ‘What would you do?’ campaign organised by the Australian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS).
The campaign’s posters feature images of missiles falling on university landmarks and were put up around campus. A headline asks students how they would respond if “UNSW terrorists fired thousands of rockets at USyd”. The posters are adapted from an Israeli Defence Force campaign that showed London, Paris and Sydney under attack.
The campaign has attracted the ire of the Muslim Students Association of NSW. In a recent press release, the MSA objected to the “legimitising rhetoric” of the posters, which present the conflict as something other than “disparately asymmetric”.
At the council meeting, an AUJS representative defended campaign as necessary given the “constant threat” that Israel faces from outside forces and Hamas. They said that Israel had “no choice” in its actions as it was under constant threat of “annihilation”. The SRC nevertheless passed a resolution condemning the campaign for equating “the petty rivalry between universities in Australia with the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza”.
“The depictions of Australian universities with rockets above them makes light of the desperate reality that Palestinian students face on a daily basis,” said SRC Education Officer and Socialist Alternative member Ridah Hassan. “These students have had their universities, schools, hospitals, and loved ones bombed by the Israeli army.”
As well as condemning the AUJS campaign, the SRC motion also called on National Union of Student Officers to refuse a tour of Israel funded by the Australia-Israel Jewish Affairs Council, or else to be “complicit in its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people”. The motion passed with three against.
The SRC motion comes as violence resumes in Gaza, following the end of a three-day ceasefire on Friday. Israeli and Palestinian representatives have so far failed to agree to a long-term truce, as Israel refuses to lift its blockade on Gaza and Hamas rejects any calls for the demilitarization of Gaza. Meanwhile, the human toll of the conflict continues to rise. At least 1,960 people, mostly Palestinian civilians, have died since the conflict began in early July.