Landmark Australian BDS Battle Returns to Court

Lawsuit could determine whether BDS against Israel breaches Australia's antiracism laws.

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A landmark case that could determine whether the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel breaches Australia's antiracism laws returns to court this week, The Australian reported on Monday.

The parties will "debate potentially decisive orders this week," according to the report.

Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center, an Israel-based civil rights organization, last year filed suit against Jake Lynch, director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.

The lawsuit focuses on Lynch's refusal to sponsor an Israeli academic from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for a fellowship in Australia.

Lynch's opposition stemmed from his support for the BDS campaign against Israel, and, according to reports, the fact that Hebrew University has a campus on Mount Scopus, viewed by some as beyond the Green Line, and ties to the Israeli army.

Shurat HaDin has argued that Lynch breached Australia’s 1975 Racial Discrimination Act, which makes it unlawful for anyone “to do any act involving a distinction, exclusion ... or preference based on race ... or national or ethnic origin.”

“It is the first time that Australia’s anti-racism laws have been utilized against those seeking to harm Israeli academics or businesses because of their national origin,” Shurat HaDin’s Australian-born solicitor, Akiva (Andrew) Hamilton told Haaretz in November.

The case is due to return to a federal court on Wednesday, according to The Australian, when Lynch's lawyers will attempt to have the case against him thrown out.

“Nothing I have seen in the court proceedings to date sways me from my view that I have done nothing wrong," Lynch told The Australian "I am confident the case against me will prove unfounded."

Mount Scopus, one of the Hebrew University's four campuses. Credit: Lior Mizrahi

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