‘Simply not safe’: Jewish students feel targeted on campus


A peak Australian Jewish student body says Jewish students are copping demands to declare their political stances at university, while some pro-Palestine students are setting up encampments on campus.

Australasian Union of Jewish Students president Noah Loven said Jews were being vilified.

“It’s simply not safe for many Jewish students on campus at the moment, and it’s unacceptable that many feel they cannot attend their lectures and classes in person without fear of intimidation, harassment and violence,” he said.

Jewish students had been targeted at university events and demanded to declare their political stances during classes publicly, Mr Loven said.

The union is calling for meetings with the federal and state education ministers and university vice-chancellors, and better supports and tougher hate speech policies from universities.

Mr Loven says the union is concerned with university encampments at universities in the US, Australia and New Zealand that are in the mould of a tense New York protest.

A University of Melbourne pro-Palestine encampment
was set up on April 25. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Blair Jackson

The New York camp at Columbia University was dramatically raided by police on Wednesday afternoon Australian time.

More than 100 people were arrested as police rounded up protesters following weeks of media coverage on the university president’s opposition to the protest.

A pro-Palestinian camp set up at the University of Melbourne on April 25. The Jewish union is planning a rally at the university on Thursday.

A protest camp at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.
At least 40 colleges across the US, as well as universities
in Paris, Rome, the UK, Sydney and Melbourne, have
pro-Palestine camps. Picture: Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images/AFP


The university says the pro-Palestine group has been peaceful.

Zionist Federation of Australia chief executive Alon Cassuto said generally anti-Semitism had been getting worse in recent months.

“Students are singled out in classes. Jewish students are scared to complain for fear their marks will be affected,” he said.

“Anti-Semitism under the guise of political discourse is still anti-Semitism. We must be vigilant and clear in our opposition to any form of hate on our campuses.”

Tensions at Columbia University in New York City
have been high for weeks. Picture: Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP

The Zionist group supported the student union’s call “to preserve the safety and dignity of all students”.

Meanwhile, protest camps are spreading across the country, with pro-Palestine students at Perth’s Curtin University setting up their own encampment on campus on Wednesday.

Protest organiser Ella Marchionda, from the Students for Palestine group, said the encampments had given “new life” to the global Palestinian solidarity movement.

There are at least 70 tents at the University of
Melbourne camp. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Blair Jackson

“Student protests have been central to movements for social justice throughout history,” she said.

“Now we need to take a stand against the horrific genocide that Israel is waging on the people of Gaza and against the support they continue to receive from Western governments and our own universities.”

The protesters at Curtin University on Wednesday. Picture: Supplied

The protesters are calling on Curtin to sever all ties with Israel.

From Thursday onwards, the encampment at Curtin will be co-organised by the Curtin Student Guild, Students for Palestine WA and Friends of Palestine WA.

Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John was expected to speak at Wednesday’s protest.

Muslim Youth WA member Ali Chaudry said his group supported the student and youth protests mushrooming across the world.

“The ongoing genocide against Palestinians must cease immediately,” he said.

“Merely condemning these acts is insufficient. We demand tangible action.

“We call on all organisations throughout Australia to sever their ties with Israel and take a stand against this genocide.

“The time for decisive action is now.”