What is the link between Macquarie University and Khaldoun?

Barry O’Farrell, the opposition leader for New South Wales, has recently written to the Vice-Chancellor of Macquarie University and to Australian Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard urging them to investigate and censor Khaldoun for being a “hate-filled,” “anti-Israel propaganda website.”  A Macquarie University spokesperson, Greg Walsh, has provided the following response which affirms the university’s commitment to the principles of freedom of speech.  Instead of calling for censorship of perspectives they disagree with, Walsh patiently observes, Khaldoun’s critics might better uphold the principles of democracy and free speech by engaging in reasoned debate on this site, or “better still start a blog of their own.”

With Greg’s permission, we thought it worthwhile to publish the entirety of Macquarie’s response here to clarify the relationship between Macquarie University and Khaldoun.

–L.L. Wynn

The recent case of internet censorship by the Chinese Government during the Beijing Olympics is a timely reminder that freedom of speech and access to differing points of view are not rights shared by all peoples of the world.

Throughout history, universities have contributed toward the development of democracy and freedom of speech in society by being places where academics could present and argue theories and points of view – no matter how controversial.

The academics commenting on the Khaldoun blogsite – which is not a Macquarie University site – are expressing their professional opinions on subject matter well within the area of their appointment: Middle East politics. The University does not either endorse their views, or those of their critics, our role is simply to ensure the University is a place where different views are tolerated and debated without prejudice.

A measure of the strength of freedom of speech in a society is its ability to tolerate the expression of ideas, even those that may cause some within that society to feel annoyed or hurt. The alternative – the suppression of ideas – only erodes free speech and democracy.

The University does not expect everyone who reads the postings on the Khaldoun blogsite to agree with them, that is the nature of debate – particularly in the area of politics. But rather than calling for the site to be censored, those with a differing point of view could always post a critical response backed up by their evidence, as others have done, or better still start a blog of their own. If they feel statements on the site contravene any specific legislation, then they should pursue complaints with relevant authorities. These are the sorts of measures that democratic societies provide in order to protect freedom of speech.

Macquarie University will not monitor the blog site or try to tell the blog’s authors what to publish or what views to hold. That would be the antithesis of what a university in a free society stands for.

Macquarie University’s Statement on Academic Freedom endorsed by the University’s Academic Senate in October 2006 reads:

The University’s value as an institution of learning depends upon its ability and its determination to challenge, revise and renew accepted ideas, its encouragement of vigorous debate, and its support for the development and testing of theories. For the University to fulfil this role, its academic staff must have the right and duty to exercise their own professional judgment in engaging in teaching and research, and to
disseminate the results of that research, without undue interference from governments, the University’s administration, the media, private corporations and other organisations.

Academic freedom includes the right and duty of staff to:
● Carry out research and disseminate and publish the results in a timely way.
● Play a significant role in determining the curriculum and the standards and methods of teaching.
● Read broadly and without fear of being judged on what they read.

Researchers and teachers at Macquarie University are bound by high academic standards, including a commitment to intellectual honesty, rigour in the construction of arguments, and the appropriate use of evidence. The maintenance of these standards is especially important when staff comment in public forums outside the university, including the media. Academics are not in the privileged position of being able to say whatever occurs to them on any matter whatsoever, nor are they entitled to inflict gratuitous damage on others, but when they act with high professional standards, researchers and teachers should be free to challenge the most fundamental values and beliefs of society in the spirit of open inquiry.

Students and staff should be able, however, to expect that their right to hold values of their own choosing will be respected even when those values are being questioned. Academic freedom carries associated responsibilities to exercise professional care and competence in the conduct of teaching and research, to subject academic work to the critical scrutiny of others, to consider the impact that one’s work may have on others, and not to impinge on the ability of others to engage freely in teaching and learning, research, and academic debate.

Academic freedom is fundamental to the academic work of the University itself. It is also emblematic of the values that the University stands for and strives to cultivate in the wider society. Teachers and researchers can only fulfill their obligation to society in a context of academic freedom. More than this, however, since the University stands for, promotes and defends the right and need of all people to have access to open debate, academic freedom is the enactment of the University’s commitment to society.

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14 Responses to What is the link between Macquarie University and Khaldoun?

  1. Ruben says:

    In the name of academic freedom and the free-market interplay of ideas, where has this blog entertained the thoughts of those who have no problems with the continuance of the Jewish State?

  2. llwynn says:

    Ruben, perhaps you should read more of the blog before asking such questions.

    First of all, there are several commentators who regularly post comments here who are Zionists, i.e. supporters of an Israeli state as currently constituted, one which determines membership on the basis of religion.

    But second of all, not a single contributor to this blog has any problem with the continuance of Israel. It’s just that we’d like it if it would reform to an egalitarian, non-racist state that does not determine the rights of citizenship based on religion and does not occupy Gaza and the West Bank.

    – Lisa

  3. Raffe says:

    Ruben,

    I’ve never had my comments censored on this blog despite my Zionist beliefs.

    Lisa,

    Israel withdrew from Gaza and was going to withdraw from the West Bank until rockets were again being fired from Gaza into Sderot.
    Furthermore; i consider Israel to be a much more egalitarian society than other Middle East countries. With it’s blanket acceptance of homosexuals, advances in feminism that haven’t been seen elsewhere in the region, seperation of church and state, freedom of religion, freedom of political practice etc etc.

    Whilst at the same time if you observe many of the Arab states which actively oppress their citizenry through state-sanction violence you’ll see that they are far from egalitarian states.

  4. Rosalyn says:

    Raffe, can you please go and educate yourself by reading Tanya Reinhart (a writer I am sure you will have something critical to say about and will no doubt provide a Benny Morris quote on her) and various other commentaries on the famous Gaza withdrawal. Israel had no intention of withdrawing from the West Bank even before they saw rockets being fired into Sderot. The whole idea of withdrawal was to have the capacity to strangle Gazans without settler presence.

    Yes its such an egalitarian soceity especially when it accepts all sorts of people as you outline above. Pity it fails to accept anyone who is not Jewish. Pity that we have to read about Ethopian, and other coloured, Jews protesting in the streets due to ill treatment by the state. It’s nice they get second class citizenship based on where they came from and what they look like. But at least they get something hey? Unlike like non-Jews who can never be accepted into a state that can only house one religious group.

    Seriously Raffe if its so great a society why don’t you just go marry it.

  5. Raffe says:

    Unfortunately state-human marriages are not legal to my knowledge, though who knows what can happen in the future.

    I reply with a Benny Morris quote, you reply with a Noam Chomsky quote and eventually our postings will just become crib-sheets of their essays and books.

    At no point did I say that Israel was a perfect society; yes the Ethiopian and Arab communities have it worse off in some instances but they also have far more rights in Israel than (the majority of them had) in their own countries. Could you please give me a society where there are no second-class citizens? America has their Hispanic citizens that claim second-class status, Australia has the Aboriginies, Britian has their Islamic community….there’s no country in the world that is perfectly egalitarian or where all their citizens are on equal footing. So why are you automatically accusing Israel of a oppression when there are states that oppress more people, and in much worse ways.

  6. Rosalyn says:

    For the record I’ve never come back with a quote from Noam Chomsky but if I did at least it wouldn’t be from someone who supported the ethnic cleansing of a group of people in order to make way for another. And at least Noam Chomsky never said the ethnic cleansing that did take place didn’t go far enough.

    Yes no society is perfect and very very many have minority groups who are treated in terrible ways. But that certainly does not make it justifiable for Israel to treat its minorities in those ways. Please as a state that was created to end the suffering and discrimination against a particular community of people it seems completely outrageous that they should be inflicting such oppressive practises against minorities. You see what you fail to see Raffe, and this is the critical thing, is that Israel practises a form of colonialism – with the lovely attributes of racism – that is ingrained within its structure. What Zionism has done is convince Jews that they will never be accepted in Europe because they will only ever been seen as Asiatic but in Israel (a state in the broader Asia continent) Jews who migrate there can see themselves and live as Europeans. And that is the part you miss. Israel does not see itself as part of the region it is in and acts as a European state and sees its own culture as above and more progressive than the states around it. You can deny it all you want and come back with some half baked rebuttal but it is an aspect of Zionism that you can’t escape, even if you can’t see it.

    Seeing as Israel is so progressive, and accepts (as you outline) homosexuality, the rights of woman, feminism etc I’m sure it will be the first state in the world to legalise state-human marriages. So don’t give up hope yet ….

  7. Raffe says:

    Rosalyn,
    Wasn’t it Noam Chomsky who wrote a foreword to the book written by Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson? Well, if you want to quote Chomsky, you really should know into which camp you’ll fall.

    You say that it’s not justifiable for Israel to treat its minorities in racist or discriminatory ways. True…but Israeli Arabs have the best standard of health care, housing, education, income and other opportunities in the entire Arab world. Check the UN Human Development reports for the past four years if you want to see how Arabs (especially women) who aren’t members of the ruling elite are treated…..among the lowest measurements in the world (other than sub-Saharan Africa) in literacy, education, human rights and more. Read it, Rosalyn, before deciding which country is the worst at discrimination.

    Yes, Israel was re-created as a nation for the Jewish people after the Holocaust, alongside a Palestinian nation, in the hope that the two could live side by side. Israel accepted the UN Declaration; the Arabs didn’t. They went to war to ‘drive the Jews into the Sea’. Atrocities were committed during that war on both sides. You claim Israel has become a colonizer….that’s one interpretation. But you haven’t asked the question which a university student should be asking….why? Simply because on numerous occasions, Israel has had to defend itself from attack….1948, 1956, 1967, 1972, and recently against non-state belligerents operating as insurgents and guerrillas and homicide bombers. If Israel gained territory in war, it’s because the Arabs lost their genocidal assaults.

    And please don’t be so naïve as to say that Zionism has convinced Jews that they’ll never be accepted in Europe. What gives you the right to speak on behalf of a people in whom you have no understanding. When you say that Israel doesn’t see itself as part of ‘the nation it’s in’, you show yourself as having no understanding of its demographics, its politics, and its national aspiration. The Jewish connection with Israel goes back 3000 years. Argue on the basis of fact, not lack of understanding.

    And finally, why aren’t you raising your voice in protest at the treatment of women, homosexuals, Christians, and others in Saudi Arabia? Do you have any idea of the punishment meted out to people who try to practice Christianity in that nation? Do you know the punishment given to women who drive in Saudi Arabia without a man’s permission? Please don’t lecture people on Israel’s supposed failings as an equitable nation while closing your eyes to the intolerable, inequitable, immoral, inhuman treatment of non-Sunni humanity in that country.

    And in Jordan, have you heard of the honour killings? Do you know that there are about 40 completely innocent women in jails in Amman, kept there for their own protection because of their ‘crime’ of holding hands with a boy from a different tribe? If they came out onto the streets, they’d be murdered by their fathers, mothers, aunts, brothers and cousins. Not fantasy or ‘Zionist propaganda’, Rosalyn. Read…learn the facts. Then, perhaps, we can have a discussion about Israel’s shortcomings.

  8. Rosalyn says:

    Thanks for your half baked reply. It was exactly what I expected. You keep using the Arab world, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia etc as your yardstick to compare to Israel and keep pointing out the world how Israel is so much better because they, for example, don’t practise honour killings against woman. (FYI I am very well aware of the shortcomings and abuses of minorities and others in Saudi and in Jordan and in most states in the Arab world – the last thing I need is an education from you on these issues). It’s really such a BORING and simple argument and position to take where you engage with nothing but the same old crap.

    And don’t worry about my reading. I know the facts and the counter facts and I am certain I read a hell of a lot more than you ever could. Because indeed if you had bothered to read you would have tried to engage somewhat with my points above about Zionism and the racism within that ideology. But you haven’t really. Because you can’t. All Zionism means to you is Israel’s right to exist. It sounds so lovely and who could take issue with that? But how about you take a long hard look at Zionism and face the criticisms that have been outlined above (and they’re not just my ideas – I learnt them through reading about and thinking through the issues) in order to create a plausible defence of Israel and Zionism. You can’t just keep Zionism as a cute and fluffy idea that that justifies a states existence because the Jews needed a home etc post WWII. You need to look at it in all its complexity as we do with any political theory or ideology – liberalism, democracy, Fascism, Nazism, Wahhabism, socialism, communism and so on.

    It really would be just so much better if you married someone like Benny Morris because he has a lot more sophistication in his arguments than you have.

  9. mkhalid says:

    Raffe, although your comment is directed at Rosalyn I would like to point out to you that Israel is very much a patriarchal state – as states tend to be. This Amnesty report gives a good introduction to both general issues and the issues that are specific to Israel – see for example the commentary on Articles 9 and 16 of the Family Reunification laws. (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/037/2005/en/dom-MDE150372005en.html). I am not arguing that no other state discriminates against women; to my knowledge almost all states do, either formally (as you pointed out, in Saudi Arabia) or through implicit bias (e.g. Australian taxation laws are gender-neutral on the surface but in practice make it very difficult in economic terms for women to move beyond a male-breadwinner headed heterosexual family, and at the same time provide financial incentives to those who subscribe to this model of the ideal family). In Israel, you will find both formal and informal gender discrimination. What the Amnesty report illustrates well is that explicit racial discrimination in Israel has a disproportionate impact on women. Gender discrimination is not unique to Israel, but there are uniquely racially discriminatory laws that are a result of Zionism that serve to exacerbate gender inequality, and in particular, they impact very negatively on Israeli Arab and Palestinian women. Abuses against women in other states does not mean we should ignore the fact that Zionism discriminates on the basis of race and this impacts on women in a particularly negative way.

  10. Rosalyn says:

    Ahhh and just to clarify Raffe I did NOT say Israel does not see itself as part of the ‘nation’ it’s in. I actually said Israel does not see itself as part of the REGION (i.e. the Middle East region) it is in. It might have been a typo or misreading but it’s an important one. My point was that Israel thinks it is above and beyond the region, is more like Europe etc.

    And yes part of the argument of Zionism to justify the establishment of a Jewish home was to say, and continually say, that Jews have experienced many many years of discrimination in Europe and that Jewish people will never be accepted in Europe. I think that is a very obvious observation and a largely accepted one amongst the various forms of Zionism.

  11. Britney says:

    “First of all, there are several commentators who regularly post comments here who are Zionists.”

    How egalitarian for a blog that claims to promote equality. Israel haters (no euphemism accorded or deserved) can write long ranting hate-filled articles, while everyone else can post a few lines in the space underneath. But then again, what better way to avoid rational discussion and serious debate.

  12. llwynn says:

    Britney, there is no rule of academia (or anywhere else) that says that one must espouse every ideology known to humankind and spend equal loving attention arguing the merits of each. Obviously, as intelligent, thinking human beings, what we do is make decisions about what we believe in. The contributors to this blog argue what we believe in. We entertain comments from people who disagree with us. But the idea that we should argue a Zionist line (and whatever other ideology some people might like to see represented here) just for the sake of equality is completely nonsensical. If you want to promote a pro-Zionist perspective via web log technology, you could always start your own blog. Or you could visit any one of the many, many blogs that already do promote pro-Zionist perspectives.
    Cheers
    Lisa

  13. People may be interested in the following

    1. Submissions to Senate inquiry highlight campus bias
    http://www.ajn.com.au/news/news.asp?pgID=6197#comments

    2. The Joint Submission by ECAJ and AUJS to the Senate Inquiry into Academic Freedom
    https://senate.aph.gov.au/submissions/comittees/viewdocument.aspx?id=ff079053-7347-44a5-aff8-0a2c3cca0648

    3. The working definition of Antisemitism (2005) used in their submission
    The definition was prepared by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA -formerly called EUMC)
    http://eumc.europa.eu/eumc/material/pub/AS/AS-WorkingDefinition-draft.pdf

    FRA’s definition was adopted by
    Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism (UK) Sept 2006
    http://thepcaa.org/Report.pdf

  14. The Senate Inquiry into Academic Freedom can be found here
    http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/eet_ctte/academic_freedom/index.htm

    An example of two submissions encouraging academic freedom included:

    Dr Ben Saul, Sydney Centre for International Law, USYD
    https://senate.aph.gov.au/submissions/comittees/ViewSubmissions.aspx?inquiryid=126

    “The scholarly community itself is best placed to ensure academic diversity and freedom. Peer review of research maintains rigorous academic standards and ensures that any academic who is genuinely ‘prejudiced’ – in the sense of making claims or assertions which are not supportable or verifiable by evidence or argumentation – will not prosper as an academic.”

    Prof Richard Larkins, Chair Universities Australia

    https://senate.aph.gov.au/submissions/comittees/viewdocument.aspx?id=4d2ce8dd-6d59-40d0-a847-e981f3c8601a

    “Universities Australia defends the ability and obligation of universities to teach students how to think, not what to think, and wishes to express its confidence in students’ powers to reach their own conclusions on matters of ideological debate.

    In a free and democratic society there is no place for external interference in the intellectual endeavours of scholars.”

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