Professor Jake Lynch, director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Sydney University refused to sponsor an application by Associate Professor Dan Avnon from the Hebrew University for a Sir Zelman Cowen Fellowship to carry out research on coexistence of diverse communities in Australia at the Center. Lynch, who hosted Professor Ilan Pappe, justified his position on the grounds of solidarity with the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli academic and cultural institutions.
Avnon, who created one of the few program for Israeli-Arab dialogue at the Hebrew University was taken aback, noting that a department focusing on peace and conflict would boycott him. Avnon's reaction is probably sincere but at the same time naive about the so-called peace research. IAM reported that Johan Galtung, the intellectual architect of peace studies, has used the semantics of peace to push for a radical anti-Israel agenda. Galutung's crowning achievement was to inspire a dense and highly interlocking network of "peace" and conflict resolution departments, centers and programs to voice pro-Palestinian grievances and delegitmize Israel.
Indeed, Lynch has a long record of extreme pro-Palestinian advocacy using the academic legitimacy of the the Center to spread views that occasionally border on anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. For instance, he accused Jews of engineering the removal of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and replacing him with Julia Gillard.
Under Lynch's helm, the Sydney Peace Foundation made Noam Chomsky the 2011 winner of its Gold Medal. Other winners include the rabidly anti-Israeli journalist John Pilger, the WikiLeaks Julian Assange and Irene Khan, the former head of Amnesty International (AI) who was accused of ignoring Taliban atrocities while concentrating on American alleged abuses at Guantanamo Bay.
Lynch is on the board of the Translation Institution for Peace and Future Research, where the highly controversial UN Rapporteur Richard Falk also serves. Lynch is also on Toda International Advisory Council, a perch for some of the most ardent opponents of Israel and pro-Iranian advocates. In 2005, Toda Institute brought out Facts, Rights and Remedies: Implementing International Law in the Israel/Palestine Conflict, to spur the use of legal remedies to protect Palestinians.
Lynch, who is deeply involved in the BDS movement, is a prolific media publicist for the Palestinian cause. In 2011 he protested the hosting of "Israel Research Forum'' at the University, arguing that it would offend Muslim students.
Lynch's high profile activities have attracted public attention before. Calls to investigate the use of Australian taxpayers money to support the Center have recently increased, some of them carried by the Rupert Murdoch - owned newspaper, the Australian. The threat was apparently enough to elicit a fast response from the University. A spokesman stated that Lynch did not represent the University position and spoke for "himself and maybe two of his colleagues" when he rejected Avnon's application.
Across the divide: boycott shocks 'unity' professor Dan Avnon
BY: JOHN LYONS, MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT
From: The Australian
December 08, 2012 12:00AM
AN Israeli academic who set up one of the few centres where Jews and Arabs study together says he felt like "a fish on a hook" when he was boycotted by the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.
Dan Avnon says he still hopes to study in Australia and has been overwhelmed by public and academic support after Jake Lynch, director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, rejected his request to be a contact person on an application for the Sir Zelman Cowen Fellowship application.
Associate Professor Lynch said he and the centre would not assist Professor Avnon's application because of their support for the campaign of boycott, divestments and sanctions against Israel, which extends to an academic boycott of Israeli universities.
The decision prompted the dean of the university's arts and social science faculty, Duncan Ivison, to write yesterday to Associate Professor Lynch spelling out that "he does not speak for the faculty on visiting scholars and cannot make decisions about who comes here".
A spokesman for the University of Sydney said the institution and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence did not support Associate Professor Lynch's position on Professor Avnon and that the centre director spoke "on behalf of himself and maybe one or two colleagues".
Professor Avnon, who works at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told The Weekend Australian he thought it was ironic that a department focused on peace and conflict would boycott him.
"This is how conflicts start," Professor Avnon said. "This is group think at its worst. My attitude to peace and conflict is 'go meet your enemy'."
Professor Avnon's career includes time spent at leading US universities and he is an expert in the teaching of civics. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and his first job was at Stanford. In 2005 he was part of an EU program, Toward a Culture of Tolerance and Co-existence, with Palestinian partners. He has been associated with Hebrew University for 20 years. He will apply for a Sir Zelman Cowen Fellowship, with references from two other academics at the university prepared to sponsor him.
He established the only centre in Israel where students from the three streams of Israeli state education - secular Jewish, religious Jewish and Arab - studied together in 2001. "I'm seventh-generation Israeli and growing up I was not able to relate to Arabs at an equal level because we were not at schools together," he said.
"The same was true for my children. I thought: 'I am going to change this', so I started this program where all three groups in the state system could study together."
The drama began when Professor Avnon decided to study how a diverse community such as Australia's studied civics. He wrote to six Sydney University academics. "Four said yes, one did not reply and one said he'd boycott me."
He said Professor Lynch within 12 hours "trumpeted his principled stand across Australia on a mailing list". "It was an opportunity for him to trumpet his principled stand," he said. "I was strung on the hook of his fishing line."
This year the centre hosted Ilan Pappe, a left-wing Israeli academic attached to Exeter University in Britain.
Professor Avnon said that if he met Professor Lynch he would try to change his mind.
"I'd ask him: 'What's your story, man? Am I your enemy? Is your thought more important than the person in front of you?' " Professor Avnon said.
He said his email inbox had been filled with Australians offering assistance. "I've never been there but now I know a lot of people. These are people who don't know me, don't need anything from me and have said: 'We want you to know this is not what Australia is about, this is specific to this person.' This guy Lynch has done me a huge favour."
The program Professor Avnon began in Israel has lapsed, partly due to lack of funding, but it may be revived.
One of Professor Avnon's PhD students is a Palestinian woman who was a teacher at the school. A film called Living in Jerusalem has been made about the course.