AUSA debates Zionism as Exec overturns SJP Forum Solidarity

There was debate on Auckland University campus again today as students reacted to the AUSA Executive overturning a democratic vote to support last week's Freedom Forum. In the following video, the main arguments for and against are presented, and the debate deepens to examine the nature of the Zionist state in Israel. Many students are now calling for a Referendum to be held, to stop bureaucratic maneuvering on such an important issue of solidarity with those fighting oppression.

Muhamed Hassan from Egypt represents Students for Justice in Palestine

Gilad, from the Jewish Society, makes an unfortunate analogy about red heads

Ben Smith, AUSA International Affairs Officer, disagrees with his fellow Exec members overturning the democratic decision of the Student Forum, and gets a response from one of those involved.

Muhamed from SJP replies to the AUSA Exec's justifications

and after a camera power cut, Muhamed concludes his argument

Sam from the Jewish Society argues what the role of AUSA should be, and it shouldn't be "supporting Palestine under the radar".

Joe from Socialist Aotearoa talks about how AUSA took sides against injustice before, and should do so again

Gilad from the Jewish Society concludes

Joe from Socialist Aotearoa concludes by naming world famous Jewish activists who are opposed to Zionism- Marek Edelman, Noam Chomsky (and the third was going to be Howard Zinn). The AUSA Exec have the final word, saying that the Student union should only concentrate on domestic issues and leave international issues to other groups.

After this, no vote is taken, and many students begin arguing that we now need a referendum, if the Executive ignores the wishes of its Student Forum.


Sam said…
Hi Joe,

I would just like to make one rather important correction here. You say:

"After this, no vote is taken, and many students begin arguing that we now need a referendum, if the Executive ignores the wishes of its Student Forum."

No vote was taken because this was not a motion. The policy is that if the Executive adopts the minutes of the Student Forum but does not adopt a particular or particular motions then the President of their delegate should appear at Student Forum to explain why.

I can see that you are trying to make us out to be undemocratic and some sort of right wing cabal (something i find rather offensive and totally misguided to be perfectly honest) but I think you're taking a few liberties with the truth.

If we were being undemocratic we would have ignored the policy (as it is Student Forum policy it is not directly binding on the Executive). If we were being undemocratic we would have simply had the explanation and moved on to the next item of business. If we were being undemocratic we would have not allowed you to speak as you are not a member of the Student Forum as you are not a member of the association.

We did none of these things. We felt that it was important for us to talk about why we did not adopt the motion about endorsing the event and in turn allow students and yourself a time to put your position forward for the second time in as many weeks.

I don't wish to re-litigate why we didn't accept the motion, I felt the exec members who spoke today summed up the reasons succinctly and accurately. I do note that you do not give Arena a fair go here in this post by placing words into her mouth, but that's your decision on your blog. She was invited to close the speaking order so that she too could have two opportunities to speak to the item, just as you and everyone else did, and something that is prohibited under the standing orders. Again, if we were being undemocratic, we would have not allowed this.

I would also like to note further that having a referendum on this motion would be a frivolous waste of student money. That might not be important to you because you aren't a member of the association, but we are accountable to and answer to the students who elect us and whose money goes to us (eventually). What we are talking about here is spending student money on having a referendum on whether or not AUSA should endorse an event held now nearly 2 weeks ago by a club. I think you'll find that 'many' students would not be keen on such a frivolous move.

If people would like to move for a referendum on whether or not AUSA should support the event held by SJP then they can do that, but I can imagine the executive will oppose such a move precisely because of the reasons above. We are interested in long-term solutions that aren't prone to the same pitfalls as the current issue is. The International Affairs Officers are working on this at the moment, and I would recommend that you participate in this process so that we can achieve something workable.

I would also appreciate if you give the executive and its members a fair go in future. As Arena mentioned, our doors are always open, especially for students, and if people want to talk to us about things they can. Personally I don't feel that writing what could be argued to be misinformation on your blog is a constructive way forward.


Sam Durbin
Administrative Vice-President
Dave said…
I think you are confusing democracy for freedom of speech. democracy is the right to participatory decision making. The exec clearly crushed this. The right to express thoughts and feeling is freedom of speech. This was present.
That the vice president of a student association fails to differentiate draws a pit in my stomach.
As for wasting money. Democracy is not free. Many have payed with their lives and the lives of loved ones. I say using my hard earned taxes to ensure students, my fellow citizens have democracy is a fair price.

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