By: Ariana Kaye
Thank you to everyone for inviting me to this event and for giving me the platform to share a few words with you.
My name is Ariana Kaye and I am a fourth-year student at McGill University, majoring in art history and minoring in gender studies and political science. I serve as the undergraduate President of the art history and communications studies student association, the clubs representative to the student society of McGill University and as the VP Israel for Hillel McGill. None of these things are mutually exclusive. I pursue my study of art history with my Pro-Israel activism. Always. My article in this year’s publication addresses my frustrations with the future of art history as an academic discipline taking a turn to the radical left. McGill university prides itself on being a university that is “made to question the usual, made to find answers”. I am questioning the future of academia for starting to be intolerant towards Israeli narratives, specifically through visual art and its storytelling properties through art history. Time and time again I have seen professors discredit Israel’s existence, disregard our beautiful culture and history and assign students readings promoting hatred. I am looking for the answer as to why even the hatred of Jews is seeping into a discipline I hold close to my heart. I have been a frequent museum goer since at least the age of ten which inspired my love for art history. In 1943 Jewish art critic Gertrude Stein said “The one thing that everybody wants is to be free…not to be managed, threatened, directed, restrained, obliged, fearful, administered, they want none of these things they all want to feel free, the word discipline, and forbidden and investigated and imprisoned brings horror and fear into all hearts, they do not want to be afraid not more than is necessary in the ordinary business of living where one has to earn one’s living and has to fear want and disease and death….The only thing that any one wants now is to be free, to be let alone, to live their life as they can, but not to be watched, controlled and scared”. Sadly, even though so much time has gone by, not much has changed. This week’s climate at McGill has been hostile and scary for Jewish students. Year after year we try to bring various educational programs and opportunities to students in order to create dialogue. Time and time again these efforts are rejected and the polarization of students made even worse. There is a constant effort to make the conversation on campus into something that it is not. I stand before you today to tell you that we students will stand up for injustices written into our textbooks. We have the right to tell our history and our stories. We have the right to walk tall and proud and to stand up for what we believe in. We are the leaders of the future and it is vital to involve us in the conversations had about Israel activism. In the age of the internet, is it the twitter accounts, the facebook posts and the Instagram memes that determine culture. I thank you for bringing students into your conversation and hope you continue to do so. Thank you.