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September 17, 2012 | by  | in News |
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Presidential Pilgrimage


At a forum on Auckland University’s quad last Wednesday, AUSA President Arena Williams was formally censured by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and AUSA members for failing to consult students before taking an expenses paid ten day tour of Israeli occupied Palestine.

Williams was invited on the tour by Australian lobbying group the Australian/ Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, which annually sponsors visits for journalists, politicians, civil servants, and student leaders.

On the Facebook page, 190 people were listed as ‘going’ to the event, and there was much discussion both for and against Arena.

On the page, Williams said she had already apologised to three members of SJP in a meeting on July 25 after they had expressed concerns. She agreed to write a letter outlining her position in Craccum, the University’s student publication.

The SJP claimed that by accepting the offer she had endorsed the Israeli government’s actions and motioned that she “apologise for associating AUSA and it’s members with Israel” and “for her disregard for human rights, [and] for visiting an apartheid country under an international boycott.”

“I firmly believe that isolating Israel achieves little,” said Williams in her letter to Craccum.

“I was deeply sceptical about the offer. But I decided that the most important thing was to understand the issue, rather than forever observing from a purely academic perspective.”

Williams took unpaid leave to visit the country.

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