Australasian Union of Jewish Students

AUJS Statement: University of Sydney warns Jake Lynch over

AUJS Statement: University of Sydney warns Jake Lynch over "unsatisfactory conduct"

Although a warning is short of the action AUJS called for, it nonetheless is confirmation that Lynch’s behaviour fell short of his responsibilities as an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney

By Aujs / May 31, 2015

AUJS thanks the University for conducting a careful and full investigation. The University has, according to media reports, given Lynch an official warning for his ‘unsatisfactory conduct’, which was not deemed to be ‘serious misconduct.’

This is far from a vindication of Professor Lynch's behaviour, although a warning falls short of significant action. AUJS maintains that waving money in the face of a Jewish person is unacceptable conduct given its strong symbolism in light of an old and vicious antisemitic stereotype which has historically been used to marginalise and discriminate against Jews - Professor Lynch's defence of his conduct, published last week, admits that he featured in this imagery and, indeed, that the imagery existed. He also says, finally, he can "appreciate the hurtfulness to members of the Jewish community" at this imagery.

His claims that this was inadvertent and his reasons for producing the banknote do not add up. He is observed, in several videos released by New Matilda, egging the elderly Jewish woman on and encouraging her to splash him with water, threatening it would cost her thousands, while a younger Jewish student separates the two. This surely refutes any notion that his conduct was purely a defensive reaction, or necessary in any way shape or form, and certainly is conduct which reflects poorly on him, irrespective of the punishment handed down by the University. Whatever his motivations were, that a senior and apparently progressive academic was engaged in this imagery ought to be to the shock of all genuine progressives and anti-racists. That the University did not charge him with an antisemitic breach of their code of conduct does not vindicate his behaviour entirely.

The campaign to defend Lynch has been consistently irrelevant and intellectually dishonest, as several commentators, academics, lawyers and even a Federal Senator have betrayed the progressive values they purport to hold by slandering AUJS and the wider Jewish community as being some kind of powerful Zionist lobby. These claims would be laughable if they were not clearly intended to discredit a pluralistic, volunteer-run Jewish student union by dog-whistling with even more classical stereotypes about the powerful Jewish lobby. The claim that we had no reason to complain of Lynch’s conduct other than because of his support for Palestinian human rights is blatantly absurd and untrue, and is contradicted both by Lynch’s admission that the images of him could cause offence to the Jewish community; as well as the eventual finding that his conduct was unsatisfactory. Claims made by Lynch’s supporters about AUJS’ motivations and the extent of its influence simply reinforce how detached they are from reality.

Although a warning is short of the action AUJS called for, it nonetheless is confirmation that Lynch’s behaviour fell short of his responsibilities as an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney. It was unlikely the University would dismiss Lynch, but it was nonetheless important that we stood up for the many students and guests at the lecture, as well as the general public, who were upset and angered by what occurred at Colonel Kemp’s lecture.