A female suicide bomber who killed dozens of Israeli soldiers has graced the front cover of a University of Sydney student newspaper, and Jewish students who complained about the cover have been “condemned” for censorship.
Hamida al-Taher killed more than 50 people, mainly Israeli military personnel, when she blew herself up in Southern Lebanon in 1985. The special edition of the University of Sydney’s student newspaper Honi Soit, produced by the student women’s collective a fortnight ago, put her on the cover and called her a “martyr” in an issue dedicated to the struggle against “Israeli colonisation”.
The student queer collective’s edition of Honi Soit on April 16 was criticised for having a picture of a petrol bomb on the cover and supporting a boycott of Israel.
The Australasian Union of Jewish Students has called for an apology over the covers. “They are particularly disturbing to Jewish students as they display a blatant disdain for Israeli victims of violence,” AUJS national political director Noa Bloch said.
“By disseminating publications that sacrifice respectful dialogue … it inevitably causes distress among Jewish and other students who support Israel.”
The University of Sydney’s Student Representative Council passed a motion, 11 to 10, against AUJS on Wednesday night for complaining about the publication.
“This SRC condemns AUJS for suggesting the university should intervene to censor a student-run publication,” the motion reads.
“This SRC congratulates those who put together the women’s edition of Honi for their brave and highly defensible cover depicting a pro-Palestine freedom fighter (opposing) the illegal Israeli occupation of Lebanon and Palestine.”
Taher was a member of Syria’s Arab Socialist Ba’ath party, which is accused of killing thousands.
SRC women’s officers Madeline Ward and Jessica Syed said they did not intend to upset anyone with their cover but stood by their anti-Israeli position. “We are saddened some were upset by the picture — this was not our intention. The policy of the University of Sydney SRC and our collective is pro-Palestine.”