“Random Zionist”: LGBT Jewish students say they feel excluded from university queer groups

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LGBTI+ Jewish students claim that they are being pushed out of their own spaces for expressing their opinion - but university Queer Officers disagree.

Jewish students at the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Sydney say they’re experiencing a culture of intolerance in university queer collectives.  

26-year-old UTS student Zehava says her personal political views resulted in her feeling ‘unwelcome’ in the queer collective at her university. 

"I felt uncomfortable introducing myself as Israeli at UTS's queer collective," she told The Feed. 

“If I voiced any support of the state of Israel, any concern about antisemitism on campus, or expressed any views that could be deemed as ‘Zionist’ I would be shut down.”

Zehava also says she has been called a ‘random zionist’ by former officers of the queer collective at the University of Sydney.

She also claims private comments she made in a closed queer collective Facebook group as well as messages exchanged in a private chat were shared publicly without her permission.

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Zehava says comments in a private group were shared on Twitter without her permission.
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“It was a breach of my privacy. I asked them to take it down. I’ve got a tough skin but this outraged me a bit. 

I don’t think this is how queer groups should be.

Her comments were made in reference to a student newspaper article about Israeli pinkwashing, in which she questioned the sources of the piece.

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Zehava says she felt excluded by university queer groups for her political beliefs.
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Zehava has now started her own non political, social LGBTQI+ society: Out To Party.

“You defeat the purpose of having these spaces”

Josh Kirsh, Political Affairs Director of the Australasian Union for Jewish Students, believes Zehava’s experience is not uncommon for queer Jews on University campuses. 

We’re seeing a lot of queer Jews being kicked out of safe spaces for queer people because of their views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Clubs, societies and safes spaces exist at most Australian universities, but Josh fears that these spaces have become too political to include the people they’re meant to represent. 

“It’s not acceptable. Queer Jews aren’t any less queer because of their political views. 

“When you say to queer people that you’re not welcome in safe spaces for having particular views you defeat the purpose of having these spaces and you immediately make it less safe.”

The Feed reached out to the University of Sydney Queer Action Collective for comment.

In an email, they denied any exclusion.

SRC Queer Officers Peter Burrell Sanders & Steif Leinasars reaffirmed that they did not tolerate discrimination.

"The USyd Queer Action Collective does not turn people away for their political beliefs unless they are openly racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic or transphobic - in accordance with the current safer spaces policy," the response read.