Student Cleared After University Investigation Into Israel Protest


A University of Sydney student has been cleared of misconduct after taking part in a protest interrupting a lecture by former British Army Colonel and staunch defender of the Israeli military Richard Kemp.

Fahad Ali, a Palestinian-Australian medical student, was one of 11 people notified by the University after the protest that he was being investigated for misconduct.

The March 11 protest saw tempers flare as pro-Palestinian demonstrators entered the event, sparking an angry reaction from some of those in the audience.

Under pressure to respond to claims of anti-Semitisms as well as accusations security staff used excessive force in removing the protesters, the University engaged Workdynamic Australia to investigate and complete a report.

After its initial stages the University proceeded with its investigation into Ali, as well as associate professor Jake Lynch – a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign – two security guards, a number of students, and some members of the audience.

The investigation cleared Lynch of accusations of anti-Semitism. Later cautioned for “unsatisfactory conduct”, Lynch kept his job.

The associate professor has faced ongoing pressure over his support of the BDS campaign, including an unsuccessful lawsuit by Israeli group Shurat HaDin.

As New Matilda revealed in April, the University pursued a number of students despite the fact they were alleged to have committed seemingly minor offences, such as swearing, yelling, and resisting removal from the theatre.

They faced punishments including expulsion, suspension, and fines.

While Ali was found to have participated in the protest and yelled at an audience member, an allegation he swore at Alex Ryvchin, a member of the Executive Council of the Australian Jewry in the audience, was not upheld.

Video from the incident showed a member of the audience denying the existence of Palestinian people in earshot of Ali, much to the surprise of those protesting out the front.

Ali was informed this week the University would not take further action against him.

The fate of other students who took part in the protest is not immediately clear, nor the result of the investigation into security personnel or off-campus figures who responded to the protestors and were subsequently embroiled in the investigation.

The University of Sydney has been contacted for comment.

Max Chalmers is a former New Matilda journalist and editorial staff member. His main areas of interest are asylum seekers, higher education and politics.