Like so many before her, Jessica Cornish got involved in student politics to make a difference. To be a voice for her fellow students, gain experience in the rough environment of student political elections and perhaps to have a little fun along the way.
Last year, Jessica was elected as the General Secretary of the La Trobe Student Union. And with that began a year of unpredictable and at times shocking events that were beyond tough. Beyond fair. Indeed they were an indictment on the far left mentality towards the Jewish state and anyone who supports it.
Like so many before her, Jessica Cornish got involved in student politics to make a difference. To be a voice for her fellow students, gain experience in the rough environment of student political elections and perhaps to have a little fun along the way. Last year, Jessica was elected as the General Secretary of the La Trobe Student Union. And with that began a year of unpredictable and at times shocking events that were beyond tough. Beyond fair. Indeed they were an indictment on the far left mentality towards the Jewish state and anyone who supports it.
Jessica Cornish, a bright Jewish woman studying at La Trobe University, enjoyed the last week of the Parliamentary year in Canberra working in the House of Representatives. Alongside Members and senior Opposition staffers she sat on the floor of federal parliament. Jessica was feted by admirers and discussed her political issues with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Shorten expressed concern with the aggressive treatment she received at La Trobe University and also voiced satisfaction that she remained in the Labor Party, especially after her experiences at university.
Ms Cornish’s travails arose out of far-away events in the Middle East, during the Israel – Hamas conflict in Gaza earlier this year, a communist group, the Socialist Alternative brought an extreme anti-Israel motion to a La Trobe Student Council meeting. The motion made totally one-sided claims about the Gaza conflict. As a result, three Labor students voted against the motion, including Ms Cornish and it was modified. Retribution against them by the Communist group went beyond the aggressive political norms of student politics.
The far left faction of the SA (the same nomenclature as Hitler’s street thugs the Sturmabteilung – the SA) plastered La Trobe campus with posters of Ms Cornish and the other Labor students, labelling them as ‘supporters of genocide’, and vowing to ‘fight Zionism on campus.’ On campus several men from the SA besieged Ms Cornish, surrounding her and yelling insults like, “genocidal pig” and “Zionist piece of s**t.” They also took to social media, ranting against Ms Cornish on Facebook.
A student at La Trobe University contacted Federal Member for Melbourne Ports, Hon Michael Danby MP, about these alarming events. Upon hearing about Ms Cornish’s harassment, Michael Danby wrote to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof John Dewar, urging him to take action to stop the appalling campaign against Ms Cornish. La Trobe university responsibly instituted an investigation into anti-Jewish prejudice at La Trobe University. A private meeting to hear students views attracted some 40 students who vented their dissatisfaction with pervasive atmosphere of anti-Jewish hatred by the far left. Subsequently, several SA group members have been issued with misconduct hearing notices, and one SA member has been suspended from the University.
Jessica was also assisted by the Australian Union of Jewish Students. Victorian President, Dean Sherr said “Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s support for Jessica is very much appreciated. Her treatment at the hands of her fellow students this year was appalling, especially the campaign of bullying, harassment and intimidation by Socialist Alternative students against her. AUJS thanks Bill Shorten and Michael Danby for their support. AUJS is lucky to have strong bipartisan support against anti-Semitism.”
In the serious ranks of federal and state politics the federal member for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby met with Ms Cornish and was impressed by her bravery and dedication. Ms Cornish was invited her to do an internship at Danby’s electorate office. Cornish accompanied Danby and his staff to Canberra during the last Parliamentary sitting week of 2014. During her Canberra visit, Ms Cornish met with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Now she is about to leave with a group of experienced young leaders in Israel on a leadership program that will include meetings with senior Labor figures such as Hilik Bar.
Despite the frightening backlash she experienced for bravely standing up for her beliefs, Ms Cornish remains passionately committed to her political cause. Her future is bright. The fact that she stood up to all the anti-Jewish bullying was greatly admired by people at senior levels of the Labor Party and the Australian Jewish Community. ‘This is Australia, no one ought to ever be afraid to be proud of their origins.’ Michael Danby, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition and member for Melbourne Ports said. Danby also said ‘Not only was she greeted at the top levels of our party but the fact that a whole group left for Israel is a great rebuff to the small number of anti-Israel bigots among the students at La Trobe.’