Anti-Palestinian Racism is Alive and Well in Canadian Universities

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators protest in the halls of York University in Toronto. (Photo: via Twitter)

By Marion Kawas

Controversy continues to swirl around what actually happened at the student protest against the “Reservists on Duty” meeting at York University on November 20.

Canadian activists noted in a recent statement:

“Last month, Palestinian students and their supporters at York University were thrust into the spotlight after holding a protest against an event that brought former Israeli soldiers to campus. What happened during that evening and the ensuing aftermath have been an eye-opening expose on how the Zionist lobby works to discredit and falsely smear Palestinian activists as ‘violent’ and ‘anti-Semitic’. Students Against Israeli Apartheid SAIA-York and the other groups on campus should be commended for not only standing strong despite all the invective thrown at them, but also for forcing the parameters of the follow-up discussion to be broadened.”

There are several new developments in the quickly unfolding situation, including a recent move by York University administration to launch an independent inquiry, the Zionist club on campus publicly defending their decision to invite not only the Jewish Defense League but also two “motorcycle groups” as security for the meeting, and most recently, SAIA York retaining legal counsel to act on behalf of various representatives and members of the group.

In a December 15 release, Canada Palestine Association commented on the university’s new “independent inquiry”:

“We hope that this investigation will deal with the behavior of Herut Canada and how their Toronto leader, as early as November 22, stated that her security organizer had invited not only the Jewish Defense League but also ‘Jewish motorcycle groups’ who came out and provided ‘protection’ for the event. Are we to believe that York University, or any post-secondary institute in Canada, approves of student groups bringing members of a motorcycle gang on campus for event security? We can only imagine the howls of indignation if SAIA had invited an ‘Islamist motorcycle group’ (if one existed) to help them with security at their protest.

“In fact, one of these biker groups mentioned by the Herut coordinator, Lauren Isaacs, is The Riders of the Covenant. Their FB page states the following: ‘The ROC seek to unite active, proud motorcycle riders and members of the public in using their combined influence to promote and protect the democratic, Judeo-Christian, civilized western societies way of living.’ Really?!

“You would expect York University administration to clearly disassociate themselves from such blatant racism, and also denounce those who brought such forces onto campus. But no, they are busy focusing on their phony ‘facilitated mediation’ and bragging about their ‘commitment to inclusion, respect and diversity’.”

The facilitated mediation refers to another York administration strategy, where they penalized and restricted both the Herut club and SAIA on campus.

York officials said:

“We are confident that if a mutually agreed upon mediated agreement can be reached, we will be able to restore the withdrawn privileges”.

So, if SAIA doesn’t agree to sit and talk with a club that represents everything that is anti-Palestinian, a club that literally endorses the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, then they will never be able to lift the restrictions imposed on them?!

The Palestinian students have now obtained pro bono legal counsel in order to help them navigate this highly biased process and to protect their democratic rights. They are also calling on the university administration to ban both the Herut and the JDL from campus. Their lawyer, Dimitri Lascaris noted:

“Throughout this entire fiasco, York University’s administration, and particularly York University President Rhonda Lenton, have issued statements which were at best ambiguous and which, at worst, seemed to place the blame on the victims.”

And despite overwhelming reports and evidence discrediting the Israel lobby’s version of what happened, the “anti-Semitic” smear is still being peddled even by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.

The CPA stated:

“Just this past week, Trudeau insisted on repeating his smears during a ceremonial Menorah lighting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Let’s reflect for a minute on how this seamless transition between a religious ceremony and an attack on students for exercising their democratic rights is considered acceptable. In fact, Trudeau also used the same occasion to declare how his government’s ‘enduring friendship with Israel remains’, after receiving criticism for his orphan vote at the United Nations…”

How long must Palestinians and their supporters endure this disrespect and lack of due diligence from so many institutions in Canada? Why are a few Zionist voices given so much more credibility than other voices, even against mounting evidence to the contrary?

Frankly, this is nothing but blatant anti-Palestinian racism and a denial of basic democratic rights to anyone who dares to challenge the Israeli oppression of Palestinians. And such behavior should not and will not pass unchallenged or be tolerated any longer.

– Marion Kawas is a member of the Canada Palestine Association and co-host of Voice of Palestine. She contributed this article to Visit:

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1 Comment

  1. Unfortunately all Canadian political parties carry the same bias of denial of Zionist atrocities against Palestinians while maintaining the ‘official’ position of supporting the two state solution, a solution that was never in the works for the Zionists.

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