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The University of Melbourne has distanced itself from a BDS motion passed by the school’s student union that was described as “extreme.”

The measure was blasted by the Australian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) as “blatantly antisemitic” and “outrageous as it misrepresents Jewish students’ beliefs, misconstrues Zionism and incites hate."

It passed at a recent student government meeting in a 10-6 vote.

“The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) is a self-governing body and operates as a separate entity to the University,” a university spokesperson told Australian news outlet J-Wire.

The spokesperson said that the motion does not represent the position of the university nor does the university endorse or support it.

“The University of Melbourne is deeply committed to the values of inclusion and respect, and all members of our community must feel welcome and safe from discrimination or racism,” they said. “Any form of antisemitism is antithetical to who we are and what we stand for.”

While adding that “Jewish students and staff are valued members of our university” and pointing out they they were proud of their “academic partnerships with Israeli universities and scholars,” they also noted that while academic freedom and freedom of speech were “core values” of the university, exercising those rights must be done “respectfully.”

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) executive director Colin Rubenstein told J-Wire: “We gratefully welcome the university’s principled statement on the motion and especially the fact that the university has correctly identified the appalling UMSU motion as antisemitic.”

“AIJAC would also welcome any further steps the university could take to prevent a repeat of this travesty,” Rubenstein said.

He called on the university to take action by adopting the IHRA working definition of antisemitism.

“We hope other universities have taken note of this matter, and will also speedily adopt the Working Definition to try to prevent similar events occurring on their campuses,” he said.

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