»Defending the rights of academics to express their views on controversial issues is a basic tenant of
democracy. Given that democracies are a work in progress, it is up to us as citizens within democratic nations to use
our voice to protect our civil liberties. Part of this means we have to empower those who have been disempowered and
stripped of their basic human rights, both at home and abroad. This does not bode well for Israel - a state criticised
by UN bodies and reputable human rights organisations for its flagrant human rights violations.
Israel's supporters react to criticism in two ways. The first is by intimidating and slandering critics claiming
they are anti-Semitic and/or terrorist sympathisers. The second is by attacking and eroding our democratic rights thus
destroying the tools by which we are able to expose its abuses and war crimes.
In this case, Israel's network of supporters has launched all the fire power at their disposal, slandering the
academics while pressuring the Australian government to erode our democratic right to dissent. CPACS is now faced with
the real threat of losing federal government funding for programs unrelated to the campaign "Boycott, Divestment,
and Sanctions" (BDS), solely on the basis of the political views held by the Centre's director Jake Lynch.
Academic freedom is hindered when governments interfere with their citizens' right to form and express independent
political views. Last year following lobbying by the National Tertiary Education Union, the former Gillard government
introduced a proposal to reform the objectives of the Higher Education Support Act making it a condition of funding
that higher education institutions uphold academic freedom. Jeannie Rea, the National Tertiary Education Union
president told Sydney Morning Herald, "these changes…are an explicit acknowledgment that university staff has a
right and a responsibility to exercise free intellectual inquiry, including the right to expression of controversial or
unpopular opinions without being disadvantaged or discriminated against."
The significance of this reform was lost on Australia's new government. Before winning the elections, the now
Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop promised to deny funding for projects by all academics who voice support for
boycotting Israel regardless of whether or not these projects are related to the Palestine/Israel conflict.«