Bullying on campuses

Loven believes violence could be next

"What comes next for them, and in my head logically, the next step unfortunately, would involve some sort of violence," says AUJS national president Noah Loven.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

AUJS national president Noah Loven thinks pro-Palestinian activists at universities could resort to violence.

He told a Zionist Federation of Australia executive meeting last week that on the whole his members have not so far seen physical action.

But Loven believes the pro-Palestinian groups are growing frustrated and this could see the situation escalate.

“The encampments aren’t, from their perspective, getting the … actions that they want. What comes next for them, and in my head logically, the next step unfortunately, would involve some sort of violence, which is something that keeps me and my leaders up at night” he told the ZFA.

He describes the situation on campus as difficult, with some Jewish students finding it particularly hostile, and that is partly the fault of university administrators.

“We’ve engaged with universities on this issue, and we warned them pretty much from October 7, that things are going to get bad, things are going to get worse unless the universities implement some sort of practice guidelines. And unfortunately, we’ve seen that play out in a way that students would not have liked to see” he said.

Loven said Australian universities have differing approaches to the issue.

The one he attends, Monash, has implemented policies regarding external actors who cannot come on campus to engage in protests and that has limited the size of the pro-Palestinian elements on campus.

“On the other end of the scale is the University of Sydney [who have] unfortunately taken a really absolutist freedom of speech stance, which I cannot get my head around” he said.

Loven is critical of universities who are negotiating with the pro-Palestinian groups.

“Universities should not be acquiescing or … engaging with the students who cause the bullying, intimidation and harassment and sidelining the Jewish students who are being bullied, intimidated and harassed” he said.

On the positive side, he told the ZFA executive that he has personally never seen as many Magen David necklaces or kippot being worn by students who actually aren’t religious at all.

The AUJS President would like to see spaces for Jewish students who might not always agree with the Jewish community to open up.

He said “Opening a space within [the] mainstream Jewish community to allow disagreements where people from diverse ideological viewpoints can come together … having those spaces for dialogue [helps ensure] they don’t wander off to the extremes”.

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