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Sharri, Sky News, 28 March 2024

Sharri Markson: Now earlier this week I revealed on the show how visiting Tel Aviv University officials, including the Tel Aviv University vice president, was actually locked in a room with pro-Palestinian activists at the University of Sydney. I showed the footage of the security guards standing right outside the room. Liberal Senator Dave Sharma has now sent a letter to the University of Sydney’s vice chancellor, Mark Scott, as you know, he’s the former managing director at the ABC. Here’s what Dave Sharma said, “he says it’s highly regrettable and disappointing that international guests were made to feel unwelcome and personally threatened, and that other international guests witnessed such treatment.” He has demanded of Mark Scott an explanation. Sarah Henderson, I understand you’re Shadow Education Minister, you’re also planning to write a letter to demand answers here?

Senator Henderson: Sharri, absolutely. I’ve written to Mark Scott on a number of occasions raising serious concerns about the safety of Jewish students and also academics. But this is a shocking incident. I do not understand why the University of Sydney did not intervene, the fact that these academics appeared, based on your report, to have been locked in this room and there was also some suggestion that they were being blockaded by academic staff from the University of Sydney, is also appalling. So this university needs to leave no stone unturned in investigating what happened. There are important policies against vilification, bullying, harassment. But I also ask, have any criminal acts been committed here? Was the police called in and why? And if they weren’t, why not? I mean, this is just extreme and I cannot understand how the university’s tolerating this sort of behaviour. Mark Scott has some very big questions to answer on this.

Sharri Markson: Yeah, it’s shocking judgment. I mean, imagine having visiting senior university representatives, they’re being bombarded by the pro-Palestinian activists, these radical extremists, and thinking it’s a good idea to lock them in the same room with guards standing outside. It’s just shocking.

Senator Henderson: Look it’s absolutely appalling and we do need full answers. It just shocking. And frankly, Sydney University’s one of the worst. It’s got to do a much better job at managing the sort of safety attacks we are seeing against Jewish students and academics.

Basil Zempilas: And congratulations, that’s two big stories you’ve broken this week. You have to add that universities should understand this space much better than other sections of our community you would think. You would think they would have empathy for their guests, for relations between people of different countries, specifically, obviously, with the issues that exist in the world around us at the moment, so to have had no oversight, to have taken none of that into consideration and then to have acted in what appears to be a very heavy-handed and almost draconian, lacking in any compassion fashion, it beggars belief. There should be a full inquiry and the university shouldn’t be asked or told to do the inquiry. They should be putting their hand up and volunteering straight away to conduct their own thorough inquiry so that we can all get some answers because that sort of thing just should never happen. It’s a bad look for Australia full stop.

Senator Henderson: And Sharri can I just add also, sorry to cut in. It also appears and I’m not going to name this person, but I believe there was one prominent pro-Palestinian activist and academic from Sydney University who is leading the charge on this. It is about time that this university decided to sack some of these staff.

Sharri Markson: Sarah, I have to tell you I’ve already named him. I showed his tweets on the program, that’s the University of Sydney academic, Nick Riemer, because he tweeted encouraging protesters to target the Tel Aviv University staff days before they were due to visit. So we’ve named him because he is on the record, he is on Twitter as encouraging this protest.

Senator Henderson: He is bringing this university into disrepute and it is time Mark Scott acted and got rid of him.


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