open letter

UMSU stands with Palestine: an academic solidarity statement

We, the undersigned staff members at Universities across Australia, support the University of Melbourne students who passed the recent motion ‘UMSU Stands with Palestine – BDS and Solidarity Policy’. We also support University students across the country who take a stance on Palestine in the face of an orchestrated campaign by Zionist groups who attempt to slander them for standing against settler colonialism, apartheid, and racism in Palestine. We call on the University of Melbourne and all Universities around the country to fulfil their duty and ensure the safety of students from harassment, intimidation, censorship and false accusations for their political activism.

As academics who live, work, teach and research on stolen land, and in institutions that are part of the colonial project, we stand in solidarity with Indigenous Palestinian people in their fight for justice, freedom, and equality. We support the ‘UMSU Stands with Palestine – BDS and Solidarity Policy’ which defines political Zionism as ‘a racist, colonial ideology’ that underpins Israel’s ‘ethnic cleansing of Palestine’ and ‘continued settlement, expansion, and annexation of Palestinian land’. The classification of Israel as an apartheid state has, in fact, been confirmed by international human rights organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Despite this, University of Melbourne students involved in drafting and passing the motion have been subject to bullying and harassment by other students during the meeting in which the motion was passed, and have continued to be subjected to bullying, harassment, and intimidation privately and publicly by Zionist groups inside and outside the University.

We believe in the power of academic research in creating knowledge for public good. We also believe that Universities are important places for student activism and that political critique and activism are core to academia, research, and knowledge production. Student activism on university campuses has a history as long as many of the academic institutions in which such efforts take place. In the 1970s, South African students were critical in the movement against apartheid. Most famously, the 1976 Soweto Uprising was a series of protests initiated and led by students. More recently, Rhodes Must Fall, a 2015 South African protest movement was organised by students at the University of Capetown, directed against a statue of Cecil Rhodes and leading to a wider movement to ‘decolonise’ higher education.

Despite this, Palestinian and pro-Palestine students are subject to repression, fearmongering, surveillance, silencing and censorship on University campuses. Universities have a duty of care to protect the rights of their students who choose to take action and make political statements against settler colonialism, racism, and apartheid without being the subject of intimidation attacks or false accusations. We call on Universities around the country, and the University of Melbourne in particular, to ensure the safety of students who take a stance against apartheid and settler colonialism.

We stand against antisemitism in all its forms and stand against the weaponisation of accusations of antisemitism for political ends in order to silence critiques of Zionism and Israel. Many of these accusation rely on, and are fueled by, the IHRA definition of antisemitism, a definition that has been widely critiqued (including by its drafter) for its use to shut down discussion of Palestinian human rights and stifle discussion on the Israeli governments policies and actions against Palestinians. While the IHRA definition states that naming Israel and Zionism as racist endeavors is antisemitic, Israel and Zionism, just like other countries and ideologies, are not beyond critique, and we as academics and educators should resist exceptionalism that puts Israel and Zionism beyond critique.

We warn against the conflation of anti-Zionism with antisemitism and Judaism with Zionism and the dangerous Pavlovian labeling of critical academic work and activism on Palestine as antisemitic. Anti-Zionist Jewish individuals and organisations have pointed out time and again that such conflation obscures the meaning and reality of antisemitism which is a real threat to Jewish safety. Such conflation also erases anti-Zionist Jews around the world who oppose Israel’s brutal military occupation and settler colonial project and is, in fact, a form of anti-Palestinian racism. It is with this knowledge that we understand the motion that was passed by the UMSU not to be anti-Jewish but rather pro-human rights and pro-human dignity.

To that end, we call on the University of Melbourne and Universities across the country to :

  • Actualise their duty of care towards students by ensuring that students who take a stance on Palestine are safe from harassment, intimidation, and false accusations for their political activism
  • Maintain our universities as a place for critical knowledge production and political activism
  • Embody decolonial values that not only acknowledge but also actively work to dismantle power dynamics between the oppressor and oppressed
  • Reject the conflation of anti-Zionism with antisemitism and treat the misrepresentation of Palestine activism as a form of anti-Palestinian racism

You can sign the Academic Solidarity Letter here.


Jeanine Hourani, University of Melbourne, Research & Teaching Assistant

Dr Jordana Silverstein, University of Melbourne, Senior Research Fellow, former Women’s Officer (2005), Member of Students Council (2006), UMSU

Dr Tony Birch, University of Melbourne, author and historian, previous member of both Melbourne University Student Union and NTEU

Dr Gary Foley, Victoria University, Professor of History

Professor Chelsea Watego, Queensland University of Technology, Professor of Indigenous Health

Dr Crystal McKinnon, RMIT University, Indigenous Research Fellow, Inaugural UMSU Indigenous Committee Member, former UMSU Arts Committee Member and UMSU Education Committee Member

Daniel Kiwa McKinnon, University of Queensland, Research Assistant and PhD Candidate, NTEU member

Dr Amanda Porter, University of Melbourne, Senior Lecturer

Kim Scott, Curtin University, Professor of Creative Writing

Dr Lana Tatour, University of New South Wales, Lecturer

Dr Randa Abdel Fattah, Macquarie University, DECRA Research Fellow

Dr Micaela Sahhar, Trinity College University of Melbourne, Lecturer

Ryan Al-Natour, Charles Sturt University, Lecturer

Tasnim Sammak, University of Melbourne, Teaching associate & Palestinian organiser, Students for Palestine

Fahad Ali, University of Sydney, Research & Teaching Assistant

Muhib Nabulsi, University of Queensland, Research Assistant

Jamal Nabulsi, University of Queensland, PhD Candidate

Samya Jabbour, Curtin University, PhD Candidate

Arwa Abousamra, Western Sydney University, Student

Ghassan Hage, University of Melbourne, Professor

Jumana Bayeh, Macquarie University, Senior Lecturer

Dave McDonald, University of Melbourne, Lecturer in Criminology

Dr. Adil Hasan Khan, University of Melbourne, Senior Research Fellow, Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness

Mohamed Hadi, University of Melbourne Student Union, People of Colour Representative on Students council (UMSU), Former People of Colour Officer (UMSU)

Carol Que, University of Melbourne, Tutor

Olivia Tasevski, University of Melbourne, Tutor

Kalissa Alexeyeff, University of Melbourne, Senior Lecturer

Dr Claire Loughnan, University of Melbourne, Lecturer in Criminology, former Australian Union of Students Member

Sarah Maddison,University of Melbourne, Professor

Radha O’Meara, University of Melbourne, Lecturer

Ruby Foley, University of Melbourne, BSc Ext Student

Marijke Davey, The University of Melbourne, Sessional Tutor is The Melbourne School of Design

Stephanie Gleeson, University of Melbourne, Senior Scholarships Officer

Eleanor Benson, University of Melbourne, Australian Centre Research Coordinator

Claire Akhbari, University of Melbourne, Education Programs Coordinator

Sara Brocklesby, University of Melbourne, Administrator

Meghan Bohren, University of Melbourne, Associate Professor

Dr Jemima Amery-Gale, University of Melbourne, PhD candidate, current GSA member and NTEU delegate

Lydia Mardirian, University of Melbourne, Research Assistant and Tutor

Karen Block, University of Melbourne, Senior Research Fellow

Kristin Diemer, University of Melbourne, Associate Professor

Cathy Vaughan, University of Melbourne, Associate Professor

Hamilton Kennedy, University of Melbourne, Academic and Researcher at the Centre for Psychiatric Nursing

Dr Joshua Pocius, University of Melbourne, Lecturer

Jacob Taylor, University of Melbourne, Visitor Services Coordinator

Hamilton Kennedy, University of Melbourne, Researcher

Mel Campbell, University of Melbourne, Lecturer

Danica Cheesley, University of Melbourne, Senior Enrolment Adviser, NTEU branch committee member

Nabreesa Murphy, University of Melbourne, PhD candidate

Regan Lynch, University of Melbourne, PhD Student

Monty Patton, University of Melbourne, PhD Candidate

Jeremy George, University of Melbourne, PhD student

Claire Sullivan, University of Melbourne, PhD candidate and research assistant

Tyler Gleason, University of Melbourne, PhD Candidate

Elyssia Bugg University of Melbourne, PhD candidate and sessional tutor

Suzannah Henty, University of Melbourne, Graduate Research Teaching Fellow

Priya Kunjan, University of Melbourne, PhD Candidate

Hala Nasr, University of Melbourne, PhD Candidate

Claire Zammit, University of Melbourne, PhD Candidate and Research Associate, GRAMS

Nicola Creagh, University of Melbourne, PhD Candidate and Research Assistant, Graduate Research Training Representative, MSPGH Graduate Researcher Association

Farnaz Shahimi, University of Melbourne, PhD Candidate

Simon Farley, University of Melbourne, PhD Candidate, former UMSU Media Officer and Students’ Councillor

Keagan O Guaire, University of Melbourne, PhD Candidate and Research and Teaching Assistant

Emma Barnard, University of Melbourne, Teaching Associate Lead/PhD Candidate

Joshua Barnes, University of Melbourne, PhD student

Martha Vazquez Corona, University of Melbourne, Research and Teaching Assistant

Nathan Gardner, University of Melbourne, Tutor, Administration, Research, Current NTEU delegate

Fatih Oguzhan, University of Melbourne, Sessional Academic Tutor

Clare, University of Melbourne Student, UMSU

Wajeehah Aayeshah, University of Melbourne, Lecturer in Curriculum Design

Nevo Zisin, University of Melbourne, Casual Lecturer

Monica Sestito, University of Melbourne, MA candidate and current Education (Research) Officer at the Graduate Student Association (GSA)

Ben Gilmour, University of Melbourne, Liaison Support Librarian

Bee Spencer, University of Melbourne, Student, University of Melbourne Student Union, Earth Sciences Student Society

Dr Declan McGavin, University of Melbourne, Academic Teaching Staff

Bina Fernandez, University of Melbourne, A/Professor

Emily Kaji, University of Melbourne, Student library assistant, UMSU

Zahra Elahi, University of Melbourne, PhD candidate

Katie Wood, University of Melbourne/La Trobe University, Senior Archivist/PhD Candidate

Dr Zora Simic, University of New South Wales, Senior Lecturer

Brandy Cochrane, Victoria University, Senior Lecturer

Dr Sara Dehm, University of Technology Sydney, Senior Lecturer in Law, former MUSU Environment Committee Member (2003) and UMSU Project Officer (2005)

Ben Silverstein, Australian National University, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in History, Lecturer in Indigenous Studies, former member of UMSU Students Council, Education Committee, Activities Committee

Fleur Taylor, Victoria University, Vice-President (Professional staff), VU Branch, National Tertiary Education Union, former Education Vice-President, Melbourne University Student Union (1994)

Ruth Liston, Victoria University, Lecturer

Dr Peter Slezak, University of New South Wales, Honorary Associate Professor in Philosophy

Nick Riemer, University of Sydney, Senior Lecturer, branch president of NTEU University of Sydney branch

Dr Julia Dehm, La Trobe University, Senior Lecturer, former UMSU Former Environmental Officer

Professor Joseph Pugliese, Macquarie University, Professor

Erica Millar, La Trobe University, Senior Research Fellow

Terri Ann Quan Sing, La Trobe University, PhD Candidate

Dr Anastasia Murney, University of New South Wales, Sessional Lecturer

Suneel Jethani, University of Technology Sydney, Lecturer

Dr Max Kaiser, Independent Scholar, former Welfare Officer, University of Melbourne Student Union (2008). Member of Students Council, University of Melbourne Student Union(2009)

Andrew Brooks, University of NSW, Lecturer

Carly Heinrich, University of South Australia, PhD Candidate and Tutor

Wesam Charkawi, Western Sydney University, Sheikh and PhD Candidate

Jahkarli Romanis, Monash University, Research Assistant and PhD Candidate

Phil Griffiths, University of Southern Queensland, Retired (2021), former Lecturer in Political Economy

Lucia Sorbera, University of Sydney, Dr/ Chair Department of Arabic Language and Cultures

Cyma Hibri, University of Sydney, PhD candidate

Freya Higgins-Desbiolles, University of South Australia, Adjunct Professor

Dr Greg Giannis, La Trobe, Australian Catholic University, University of New England, Sessional lecturer

Katy B Plummer, University of New South Wales, Sessional Lecturer

Kieran Stevenson, Deakin University, Sessional Academic & PhD candidate

Dr Mark Bahnisch, University of New South Wales, Centre for Social Impact, UQU – Acting President, Treasurer, Chair of Council, Clubs & Socs VP

David Brophy, University of Sydney , Senior lecturer

Nadia, James Madison University, Student

Bec Fary, RMIT, PhD candidate and sessional tutor

Dr Elliot Dolan-Evans, Monash University, Assistant Lecturer

Francesco Ricatti, Monash University, Senior Lecturer

Rawan Elsayed, Macquarie University, Student

Dr. Caitlin Biddolph, University of Sydney, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Professor Alana Lentin, Western Sydney University, Professor

Dr Maria Elander, La Trobe University, Senior Lecturer

Na’ama Carlin, University of NSW, Lecturer

Michael Griffiths, University of Wollongong, Senior Lecturer

James Godfrey, Australian National University, Visiting PhD Researcher

Claire McLisky, RMIT, Senior researcher

Dr John Pike, University of South Australia, Lecturer

Brett Woods, Victoria University, Sessional Academic & Research Coordinator

Alba R. Boer Cueva, University of New South Wales, PhD Candidate

Dr Stephen Pascoe, University of New South Wales, Postdoctoral fellow

Timothy W. Jones, La Trobe University, Associate Professor of History

Rory Randall, RMIT, Researcher

Dr Marcelo Svirsky, University of Wollongong, Senior Lecturer

Nadia Rhook, The University of Western Australia, Lecturer

Evan Smith, Flinders University, Lecturer

Emily Foley, La Trobe University, Lecturer & PhD candidate

Hannah Douramanis, RMIT, Student

Dr Kyja Noack-Lundberg, Deakin University, Associate Lecturer

Dr Hannah Reardon-Smith, Macquarie University, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Lu Lin, RMIT University, PhD candidate

Darcy Hytt, Monash University, Teaching Associate

Alison Holland, Macquarie University, Associate Professor

Pip Buckingham, Monash University, Research Fellow, PhD Candidate & Teaching Associate

Areni Altun, Monash University, PhD student

Dr Joseph MacFarlane, RMIT University, Lecturer

Professor Mohamad Abdalla, University of South Australia, Professor and Director of CITE

Maria Giannacopoulos, University of New South Wales, Associate Professor

Matthew Klugman, Victoria University, Senior Lecturer, former UMSU Environment Committee (1996)

Dr Nadeem Memon, University of South Australia, Senior Lecturer

Nilmini Fernando, Griffith University, Adjunct Fellow

Yassir Morsi, La Trobe University, Lecturer

Justine Poon, University of the Sunshine Coast, Lecturer

Giles Fielke, Monash University, Lecturer

Liam Ward, RMIT University, Lecturer in Media and Communication

Alice Bellette, Deakin University, PhD Candidate

Sinead Wilson, Australian National University, PhD Candidate & Casual Academic

Dr Carolyn D’Cruz, La Trobe University , Senior Lecturer

Poppy de Souza, University of New South Wales / Griffith University, Research Associate / Adjunct Research Fellow

Dr Micaela Pattison Flinders University Lecturer of European History

Sally Gebbett, University of Southern Queensland, Honours student

Bakir, Australian College of Applied Professionals, Student

Luca, Victoria University and Melbourne University, Sport staff and student

Sajda Yakub, Monash University, Deakin University, Lawyer, Monash Islamic Society, Deakin Islamic Society

Lucia Morris, RMIT, Student

Dr Dion Kagan, Australian Research Centre for Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Research Officer, former UMSU member

Ian Woolford, La Trobe University, Lecturer

Priya Chacko, University of Adelaide, Senior lecturer

Theodore White, La Trobe University, Student

Joshua Badge, Unaffiliated, Casual academic

Lina Koleilat, Australian National University

Dr Lara Palombo, Macquarie University, Tutor

Jack Stewart, Charles Sturt University, adjunct administrator, former UMSU member

Mish Furner, Charles Sturt University, PhD Candidate

Jennifer Jorm, University of Queensland, PhD candidate

Claire Fredriksson, RMIT, student, RUSU

Sianan Healy, La Trobe University, Tracey Banivanua Mar Research Fellow

AJ Bond, La Trobe University, Student

Shaphan Cox, Curtin University, Lecturer, Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG)

David Ng, RMIT, Student

Assoc. Professor Rob Amery, University of Adelaide, Senior Lecturer in Linguistics

Mary-Anne Gale, University of Adelaide, Research Fellow

Nadia Zeaiter, Western Sydney, Social Worker






You can sign the Academic Solidarity Letter here.

Image: Ali Hourani

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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Jordana Silverstein is a Senior Research Fellow in the Melbourne Law School. A cultural historian of migration and of Jewishness, she’s the author of Anxious Histories: Narrating the Holocaust in Jewish Communities at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century (2015).

Jeanine Hourani is a Palestinian organiser, writer, and researcher who is currently employed as a research and teaching assistant at the University of Melbourne

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