Israeli NGO quits BDS case against Sydney academic

Marcy Oster

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – An Israeli legal group abandoned its racial discrimination case against an academic in Sydney over his support for the boycott of Israel.

Shurat HaDin-the Israel Law Center will withdraw its case against Jake Lynch, the director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, according to The Australian newspaper.

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The nongovernmental organization launched litigation last year after Lynch refused to endorse an application by Hebrew University professor Dan Avnon for a fellowship. Lynch, citing his center’s support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, refused to support Avnon’s application but denied it was racially motivated. Shurat HaDin claimed it was racial discrimination.

Lawyers for both sides applied this week to Justice Alan Robertson for the case to be dismissed, The Australian reported. He will rule next week on the dismissal.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the head of Shurat HaDin, conceded she lost the case on a technicality, but told The Australian, “We are absolutely determined that Lynch committed an unlawful breach of Australian anti-discrimination law.”

Lynch, however, claimed a “comprehensive legal victory.”

In a statement Thursday, he said, “It gives the green light for many more Australians to take their own action in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for rights and freedoms we are lucky enough to be able to take for granted.”

Jewish groups had urged Shurat HaDin against intervening, fearing it could give a boost to the BDS campaign.

“It was very disappointing that having written to Nitsana directly at Shurat HaDin discouraging her action, she chose to ignore our reasoned arguments and proceed,” said Dr. Danny Lamm, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia. “As for Jake Lynch, I think he is largely discredited in any event.”