I'm a Student at McGill. Our Problems with Anti-Semitism are Far From Over: David Watson, National Post, Nov. 1, 2017— Last week, McGill University was thrust into the national spotlight for an unfortunate reason.
An Anti-Semitic Caricature of Me Generates No Criticism from Berkeley Hard Left: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 26, 2017— I was recently invited to present the liberal case for Israel at Berkeley.
Universities Can’t Have it Both Ways on Free Speech: Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail, Oct. 27, 2017— The trouble with campus speech codes is that they backfire.
I Don’t Want an Apology from Justin Trudeau: Sally F. Zerker, CIJR, Oct. 26, 2017— Canadian governmental spokespeople have been active lately in apologizing for historical wrongs.
The Zionists are Coming! Panic at San Francisco State U.: Cinnamon Stillwell, American Thinker, Oct. 7, 2017
New Wave of Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic Activity Emerges on US Campuses: United With Israel, Oct. 2, 2017
Against Faux-Feminists Who Deny the Rights of Muslim Women and Jews: Phyllis Chesler, Tablet, Oct. 2, 2017
Massey College Suspends ‘Master’ Title, Apologizes for ‘Completely Inappropriate’ Incident: Simona Chiose, Globe & Mail, Sept. 29, 2017
National Post, Nov. 1, 2017
Last week, McGill University was thrust into the national spotlight for an unfortunate reason. Students at the bi-annual General Assembly of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) voted to remove a Jewish student, Noah Lew, from the society’s board of directors. Lew later wrote on Facebook that he had been targeted for his Jewish identity. Before the vote, Lew and two other directors were publicly accused of corruption by a student political group for their affiliation with Jewish political organizations such as the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC).
The vote against Lew at the general assembly last week is certainly disappointing. But what’s even more troubling is that, to anyone with a decent grasp of student politics at our university, it wasn’t in the least bit surprising. Lew’s removal is just the latest symptom of a much deeper problem in McGill student politics. Unless it can be definitively resolved, it will only be a matter of time before the next episode of alleged anti-Semitism at the university.
I’ve been an undergraduate student at McGill since 2014, and I’m now in my final semester. For the past two years, I’ve been writing about student politics at McGill for a student newspaper, The McGill Tribune. In that time, I’ve become familiar with a student society that is engulfed in an endless debate over whether or not to support Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), a movement that calls for a boycott of Israel over its occupation of the Palestinian territories. It’s a struggle that consumes the attention of the society and its members, and generates most of the scandals that plague the university, including last week’s vote against Lew.
For the past three years, BDS has been the organizing principle behind most of the major controversies on our campus. Motions to support BDS were brought forward three separate times in 18 months, before they were declared unconstitutional by the Judicial Board, SSMU’s version of a supreme court. Since then, the struggle over BDS has continued through proxy debates over constitutional issues, proposed reforms, and, as we saw last week, votes on individual student representatives.
Incidents like Lew’s removal are nowadays generally accompanied by a semantic debate about what does or does not constitute anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, or some other form of -ism. Those who voted against Lew claim that their grievances were only political, though I’m not aware of any legitimate criticisms of Lew, since no one even bothered to speak during the allotted debate period before the vote. But whatever their intentions, what matters most is that their actions have real, damaging consequences for our university’s Jewish students.
By voting against board members for things like their membership in CJPAC, McGill students are forcing many of their Jewish peers to make an unfair and harmful choice. They are forced to choose between getting involved in their communities and participating in student government at our university. No McGill student should be put in such a situation, and it’s our responsibility as fellow students to ensure that no one is. That’s why, after the results of the vote against Lew were announced, I joined dozens of my peers in walking out of the general assembly. To vote against Lew for his involvement with Jewish political organizations is to imply that one’s position on the Israel-Palestine conflict should be a litmus test for student representatives at McGill. This would be an absurd requirement, and its burden would fall disproportionately on Jewish students at McGill.
In the days after the vote against Lew, many powerful actors voiced their concerns about the incident, and expressed their willingness to explore solutions. McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier released a statement promising an investigation and a task force. Lew was even the subject of a discussion in the House of Commons. And at a meeting on Oct. 29, the SSMU Board of Directors voted to establish its own committee to investigate anti-Semitism in the student society.
If they are to make a meaningful difference, any proposed reforms will need to address the root cause of the issue: the persistence of the BDS debate at McGill. This isn’t to say that discussion of BDS or Israel should be banned on campus. Universities should be arenas for discussions on even the most controversial topics — that’s how we learn. But these issues shouldn’t come to dominate student politics, or to determine who should be able to sit on a student council.
One immediate fix would be for more students to take an active role in their student society. Much of the pro-BDS lobbying comes from a mobilized vocal minority — Lew’s candidacy was opposed by only 160 votes, at a school with more than 20,000 undergrads. Past online referendums suggest that most students don’t support BDS, but their inaction allows its supporters to drive the agenda. With only a few weeks left before I graduate, I won’t be around to see any of the changes I’m proposing. BDS will have defined my entire experience with student government at McGill. This can’t be allowed to continue. McGill is an otherwise great school, and its incoming students deserve a better experience than the one that the students now graduating have endured.
Alan M. Dershowitz
Gatestone Institute, Oct. 26, 2017
I was recently invited to present the liberal case for Israel at Berkeley. In my remarks I advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state and a negotiated end of the conflict. I encouraged hostile questions from protestors and answered all of them. The audience responded positively to the dialogue.
Then immediately after my address, a poster was plastered outside Berkeley Law School with a swastika drawn on my face. The Dean of Berkeley Law School, Erwin Cherwinsky, sent a letter condemning the swastika: "Several of our students expressed their disagreement with him [Dershowitz] and did so in a completely appropriate way that led to discussion and dialogue. I was pleased to hear of how this went, but then shocked to learn of the swastika drawn on a flyer that someone had posted about him."
Shortly after, The Daily Californian – Berkeley's student newspaper – published an anti-Semitic cartoon, depicting an ugly caricature of me sticking my head through a cardboard cut-out. Behind the cardboard I am portrayed stomping on a Palestinian child with my foot, while holding in my hand an Israeli soldier who is shooting an unarmed Palestinian youth. Above the cardboard cut-out the title of my speech – The Liberal Case for Israel – is scrawled in capital letters.
In a Letter to the Editor, the university's Chancellor, Carol Christ, wrote the following: "Your recent editorial cartoon targeting Alan Dershowitz was offensive, appalling and deeply disappointing. I condemn its publication. Are you aware that its anti-Semitic imagery connects directly to the centuries-old "blood libel" that falsely accused Jews of engaging in ritual murder? I cannot recall anything similar in the Daily Cal, and I call on the paper's editors to reflect on whether they would sanction a similar assault on other ethnic or religious groups. We cannot build a campus community where everyone feels safe, respected and welcome if hatred and the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes become an acceptable part of our discourse."
It is shocking that this vile caricature – which would fit comfortably in a Nazi publication – was published in "the official paper of record of the City of Berkeley" (according to the Editor.) The cartoon resembles the grotesque anti-Semitic blood libel propaganda splashed across Der Sturmer in the 1930's, which depicted Jews drinking the blood of gentile children. Canards about Jews as predators – prominently promulgated by the Tzarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – were anti-Semitic back then and are still anti-Semitic today, whether espoused by the extreme left or the extreme right.
This sequence of events – by hard-left students who originally protested my right to speak at Berkeley– confirmed what I've long believed: that there is very little difference between the Nazis of the hard right and the anti-Semites of the hard left. There is little doubt that this abhorrent caricature was a hard-left Neo-Nazi expression.
These anti-Semitic displays against me were in reaction to a speech in which I advocated a Palestinian state; an end to the occupation and opposition to Israeli settlement policies. Many on the hard-left refuse to acknowledge this sort of nuanced positioning. That is because their hostility towards Israel does not stem from any particular Israeli actions or policies. Even if Israel were to withdraw from the West Bank, destroy the security barrier, and recognize Hamas as a legitimate political organization, it would still not be enough. For these radicals, it is not about what Israel does; it is about what Israel is: the nation state of the Jewish people. To many on the hard left, Israel is an imperialistic, apartheid, genocidal, and colonialist enterprise that must be destroyed.
Nonetheless, just as I defended the rights of Nazis to march in Skokie, I defend the right of hard-left bigots to produce this sort of anti-Semitic material, despite it being hate speech. Those who condemn hate speech when it comes from the Right should also speak up when hate speech comes from the Left. The silence from those on the Left is steeped in hypocrisy. It reflects the old adage: free speech for me but not for thee…
[To read the full article click the following link—Ed.]
Globe & Mail, Oct. 27, 2017
The trouble with campus speech codes is that they backfire. That's what happened when Dalhousie University tried to discipline Masuma Khan for making rude remarks on Facebook. Ms. Khan is the black-robed student activist who got pushback after she urged people to boycott Canada Day. "F*** you all," she responded in one post. "Be proud of this country? For what, over 400 years of genocide?" For good riddance, she signed off with the hashtag #whitefragilitycankissmyass."
Never mind for now the remarkable ingratitude Ms. Khan expresses toward the country that took her parents in, and provided her with a first-class education. No one took offence at that. On today's campuses, the sentiments she expressed are common – and, for aspiring activists, practically obligatory. No one blinked until a white, male graduate student decided to test the system. He filed a written complaint alleging that her Facebook post was "blatant discrimination" against white people.
The university should have told them both to go away and grow up. But of course it couldn't do that. Dalhousie has a detailed code of conduct that, among other things, prohibits "unwelcome" actions that might make another person feel demeaned, intimidated or harassed – even if it's just a Facebook post. The vice-provost of student affairs investigated the matter and recommended that Ms. Khan should face a disciplinary hearing and be sentenced to re-education camp. What happened next was perfectly predictable. The very people who had insisted on rigid campus speech codes in the first place – left-wing professors, Indigenous and anti-racism activists and the like – suddenly discovered the importance of free speech. In an open letter, they vigorously condemned the administration, and demanded an environment in which "political speech can flourish." The university capitulated instantly.
These people are, of course, correct. Ms. Khan has every right to trash talk anyone she wants on her Facebook page. She should not, however, be surprised when she is trash-talked back. Nor should we expect these sudden converts to free speech to express the same zeal for protecting the free-expression rights of, say, conservative white male graduate students. For universities, the burden of policing speech creates an impossible dilemma of their own making. The requirement to create "safe" spaces, where people have a right to feel unoffended, undemeaned and undiscomfited, is incompatible with the right to free expression in the public square – for the simple reason that free expression is bound to make people feel cheesed off, threatened and unsafe. That's why it needs protection.
Ironically, universities have done much to institutionalize the idea that speech itself can be dangerous, and that certain speech should not be tolerated. This idea is now depressingly pervasive. In one recent survey of 800 U.S. university undergraduates, 81 per cent said they agreed with the statement: "Words can be a form of violence." Thirty per cent agreed that physical violence "can be justified" to prevent someone from espousing hateful views.
As intolerance spreads on campus, more and more students – and their professors – are insisting that "free speech" includes the right to shut down speech they don't like. At Columbia University, hundreds of students and professors have come to the defence of demonstrators who shouted down an address by the far-right U.K. activist Tommy Robinson last month. They insist that the demonstrators should not be disciplined by the university. By shutting down the speaker, they argue, the protesters "were providing a model of informed political engagement." As two graduate-school journalism students (!) wrote, "defining 'free speech' as a one-handed monologue full of unchallenged smears, however, is a lazy cliché."
These students simply echo the position of professors such as the University of Southern California's Charles H.F. Davis, who argues that students who shout down right-wing speakers are engaged in "resistance against white supremacy." Last week, anti-fascist protesters at a university in California even shut down a panel on – that's right – free speech. Universities should scarcely be surprised that campus conservatives are now using policies devised by leftists to constrain speech they don't like. People who are happy to see the leftie vigilantes get their comeuppance shouldn't be too smug. Those surveys show that students of all stripes – left, right and centre – aren't very tolerant of speech they don't happen to like.
As universities enthusiastically embrace a mission of expanding social justice, the tensions between their role as speech nannies and as a platform for ideas and debate will only grow. I am sorry to say that no university in Canada has yet followed the lead of the University of Chicago, which explicitly advises incoming students that it does not believe in trigger warnings, safe spaces, disinviting speakers, or presumably, in policing students' Facebook posts. The administrative time and energy that could be saved by adopting such a policy would be truly awesome. And imagine what would happen if universities stopped treating students like kindergarteners: They might grow up.
Sally F. Zerker
CIJR, Oct. 26, 2017
Canadian governmental spokespeople have been active lately in apologizing for historical wrongs. Everybody was getting into the act; Trudeau with regard to mistreatment of Indian immigrants, Wynne with respect to exploitation of native peoples, Toronto’s chief of police for a raid on a gay bathhouse long ago. Now, Justin Trudeau is considering an apology for Canada’s turning aside a boatload of Jews seeking asylum in Canada from Nazi persecution in 1939.
Let me say right up front. I don’t want an apology although the Canadian government did me irreparable harm by their rejection of Jewish immigrants during the 1930’s and well into the 1940s. The refusal to allow the entry of the Jewish escapees from Hitler on the ship St. Louis was only one part of a larger discriminatory policy of the Liberal government in power.
What malice was inflicted on me personally by the Canadian government? It was responsible for the early deaths of my aunt, uncle, and their children—my cousins. Of course, the Canadian authorities didn’t directly murder these members of my family, but nevertheless they were responsible. How? My aunt Chaya was my father’s sister, she was married to Alter, and they had five healthy, bright children, who undoubtedly would have been a great asset to Canada. Chaya and Alter lived in Lodz, Poland. In the 1930’s, they were all set to join their parents and siblings in Canada. By then, my father’s whole extended family, with the exception of Chaya’s, was already settled in Toronto, Canada.
My parents migrated to Canada in 1927, to join both their maternal and paternal parents and siblings. My father’s three brothers and one sister were newcomers to Canada. As you can imagine, these new immigrants were doing everything possible to earn a living. But they were determined to assemble enough money to bring their remaining sibling and her family to Canada. Unfortunately, it took a few years to accumulate the required amount. By that time, in the thirties, the Canadian policy, with regard to Jews wanting to settle here, was in the hostile hands of Prime Minister Mackenzie King and Frederick Blair, head of immigration, who had the support of the Liberal cabinet and the caucus. They didn’t want any Jews to enter Canada. None! The result was that Canada had the worst record for the entry of Jewish refugees of any nation during the Nazi years.
The application of Chaya’s family to migrate to Canada was made in the normal way, and to my father’s surprise and disappointment, their visas were denied. An expert on immigration was hired to appeal the decision, but that too failed. A reason given for the rejection was that Alter, the husband and father of the family, had a limp, and was therefore liable to have tuberculosis of the limbs, which could threaten other Canadians. I don’t know how they came up with this excuse because it was a complete falsehood. I know this for certain, because one cousin who survived the holocaust, and who came to Canada after liberation, was able to confirm that this accusation was utter nonsense. Her father was strong and young, was fully competent to work, walk and run, and with healthy legs.
Why then is it that I don’t want an apology for this cruel act? Because an apology can’t right this wrong. It will not retrieve my relatives for me nor offer me any solace. Instead, it will whitewash a government and a Liberal Party that continued to do nothing to amend the type of antisemitism that was endemic in Canada until the 1970s. It is a shallow, empty, meaningless act for my extended family who lost part of this family for no reason except Jew hatred. It’s not as if Canada would have known any additional cost for my aunt’s family. In those days sponsorship meant total responsibility and upkeep for those committed to the newcomers.
And Canada was the undoubted loser. My father’s family of Friedbergs produced a generation that contributed very well to Canada’s interests. In total my cousins and I have three Ph.Ds in various fields, one Rabbi who led the largest Conservative congregation in Canada, two outstanding medical doctors, one excellent dentist, four who earned different kinds of post-graduate degrees, and were fruitfully employed in their respective areas of expertise, and a couple of cousins who took their talents to the USA, one who was a violinist in a Chicago orchestra. I often am filled with remorse for the loss to the Jewish community and to Canada that might have been had the bigotry and hatred not impaired the creativity and talent from thousands of Jewish refugees who were rejected. If Trudeau is set on making an apology, it is owed to Canada, not from Canada, and it should be in the name of the Liberal Party.
Dr. Sally F. Zerker is Professor Emerita at York University and a CIJR Academic Fellow.
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
The Zionists are Coming! Panic at San Francisco State U.: Cinnamon Stillwell, American Thinker, Oct. 7, 2017 —In the fevered imagination of the academic left, these are dark days at San Francisco State University (SFSU).
New Wave of Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic Activity Emerges on US Campuses: United With Israel, Oct. 2, 2017—Jewish college students returning after their summer break are encountering a wave of swastika daubings and anti-Israel activity on campuses across the country—and there are signs the hostility may intensify in the weeks ahead.
Against Faux-Feminists Who Deny the Rights of Muslim Women and Jews: Phyllis Chesler, Tablet, Oct. 2, 2017—I came into my feminist destiny in 1967, both as an academic and as an activist. Our original feminist vision was radical and transformative. We believed in universal human rights.
Massey College Suspends ‘Master’ Title, Apologizes for ‘Completely Inappropriate’ Incident: Simona Chiose, Globe & Mail, Sept. 29, 2017—Massey College, an independent residential college affiliated with the University of Toronto, has temporarily suspended the formal title of "master" to refer to its head, and apologized for an incident earlier this week that deeply offended and hurt members of the school.