ASSOCIATE Professor Jake Lynch will remain in his post at the University of Sydney after “no finding of serious misconduct” was made against him.
Lynch, director of the university’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, and five students, two contractors and five members of the public were under investigation by the university over their conduct during an anti-Israel protest on campus on March 11, which disrupted a public talk by Colonel Richard Kemp.
More than a dozen pro-Palestinian students stormed the room. Some had to be forcibly removed by security.
On Tuesday the university said a number of members of the university community and the public were found to have engaged in unsatisfactory conduct, as a result of which “disciplinary action, including counselling, warning and suspension of access rights to the university grounds” have been imposed.
While Lynch will not be dismissed from his post, he did, however, receive a warning letter over his “unsatisfactory conduct” for interfering with security guards at the protest.
Speaking to The AJN on Wednesday, Lynch said he was “relieved and delighted” to have been cleared of serious misconduct, and that the threat to his position at the university had been lifted.
“I am particularly pleased to have it confirmed that no aspect of my behaviour represented any form of anti-Semitism,” he said. “Members of the Jewish community should know that my actions are motivated solely by a wish for peace with justice for both Israelis and Palestinians.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim said the outcome is “far from a total vindication of Lynch”.
“It has now been established that there was genuine substance to the complaints about Lynch’s conduct, even if the university was unable to conclude that it amounted to anti-Semitism,” Wertheim said.
“Lynch himself has repudiated the vicious slur that the complaints about him were baseless and manufactured. I suspect that the image of Lynch waving banknotes in the face of an elderly Jewish woman, and the university’s findings of ‘unsatisfactory conduct’, will long remain in the public memory.”
Lynch has defended the action, writing on May 17 that “I and my wife were subjected to a series of physical attacks by a member of the audience, whom I ultimately felt it justified to threaten to sue for assault”.
“At one point, I produced a banknote from my shirt pocket, to lend emphasis to my point,” he said. “I was horrified when it was put to me that, in doing so, I had inadvertently featured in an image that others then used to invoke a vile stereotype, connected with the persecution of Jews in Europe.
“I can appreciate the hurtfulness, to members of the Jewish community, of having that stereotype re-activated in our modern society. However, I emphasise the word ‘inadvertently’.”
Wertheim rejected this, saying Lynch’s explanation “does not stack up”.
“The video evidence suggests that he continued to taunt and goad her long after she sat down,” he said.
“Whether it was intended to be anti-Semitic or not, and whether it was provoked or not, waving banknotes in the face of an elderly Jewish woman was no way for an academic of Lynch’s seniority to behave.”
Wertheim added that Lynch’s concession that it was reasonable for the Jewish community to take offence at his banknote waving gesture “stands in stark contrast to the campaign run on his behalf by the Sydney Staff for BDS group, which claimed repeatedly that there were no grounds for the Jewish community – or, in their pejorative expression, the ‘pro-Israel lobby’ – to be offended by his conduct”.
“Lynch’s supporters such as Senator Lee Rhiannon and Professor Nick Riemer ought to apologise to the Jewish community for their slurs along these lines,” he said.
Jake Lynch (in the red shirt) goading the elderly woman during the protest.