|Photo:Paul Lowry, Flickr|
Montreal is a city rich with educational institutions. One such venerable university, McGill University, is what many consider to be Montreal’s “Ivy League University”.
McGill has had its share, recently, of problems with the Jewish community. In February of 2016, almost 60% of those who voted supported the adoption of the BDS movement, a movement that encourages consumers to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction companies profiting from Israeli manufacturing.
The movement has been in existence since 2005, and has faced pushback from the International community – Jewish and non-Jewish organizations alike.
Though they may claim their mission is to help the Palestinian people allegedly “oppressed” by Israel, the very nature of the movement is not to help others, but to punish Israel. This piece very deftly explains why the BDS movement is one of hate, and is not pro-Palestinian.
The McGill vote represented only 3% of the 30,000 students at the University, and when presented for ratification just a few days later, it was struck down 57%-43% (with 6% abstaining).
That left a stain on McGill’s reputation, but with the University’s denouncement of the movement in the days that followed, things seemed to right themselves again over the past 12 months.
On Thursday, February 9, 2017, it came to light that a McGill student representative, in the faculty of arts, had tweeted, urging his followers to “punch a Zionist today.” Igor Sadikov tweeted it Monday, but it only became known on Thursday.
The tweet – now deleted – looked like this:
The word spread swiftly, through social media, and there were immediate calls denouncing it – and the student.
B’nai Brith, and CIJA – the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs – called for the student to resign, stating that not only was the tweet anti-Semitic, but called for violence as well.
Sadikov released a statement justifying his tweet – but how such a thing can be justified is beyond me. His statement reads:
Statement regarding the tweet I recently published: pic.twitter.com/kjQb0NprZU
— igor (@vokidas) February 9, 2017
See, he – and others who support his point of view – may see Zionists as separate from Jews, but that is a fallacy. Yes, there are non-Jewish Zionists, and there are Jews who are not Zionists. The definition of a Zionist is – from the Jewish Virtual Library:
Its general definition means the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.
It’s truly difficult to justify “punch a Zionist” as anything but anti-Semitic, especially given his expanded explanation. It is thinly veiled anti-Semitism.
Those of us who support Israel, and stand up for her right to exist, also recognize that there has never been a Palestinian State, and rather than go into the why’s and wherefores of the conflict that spawned the BDS movement, I will refer you to this short video:
While I have been very outspoken about my love for Israel, and my support of the policies that govern the land in the name of security and safety, that’s not what I’m here to do at this time.
This piece addresses the danger, and the infuriating sentiment expressed by Sadikov – and supported by those with the same thoughts.
First of all, he is a student representative – elected to that role by fellow students. Imagine how many of them are Jewish, and had no idea he harbored this kind of hatred.
A report on the incident, in The Algemeiner, states this:
According to Canadian human rights organization B’nai Brith Canada, Sadikov is a prominent supporter of the BDS movement at McGill. He is also the former news editor of The McGill Daily, which, as The Algemeiner reported, openly admitted to censoring pro-Israel content on the grounds that Zionism is a product of “settler colonial ideology.”
Secondly, he is advocating for violence (and his weak justification “I do not condone nor justify violence on the basis of membership in any identity group” belies that). This puts Jewish students in danger, but it goes further.
If this student is allowed to stay at the University, given his initial tweet and suggested action against Jews, it sends a very strong message to ALL who discriminate based on identity in any group.
This puts all students at risk: visible minorities, disabled, LGBTQ, students who speak different languages – or even just French or just English – or even those who are perceived as different from the attacker. Bullies need no reason to target others; intolerant hate-filled individuals go beyond that: their reasons are differences of others, based on identity.
The precedent it sets, should he be allowed to stay, is treacherous for all students not only at McGill University, but anywhere, any level institution, any city, any province, and yes, any country where hate speech is allowed to flourish unpunished.
Note: there is a difference between free speech and hate speech. This is a textbook example of hate speech, which is never to be allowed, and can be prosecuted.
McGill University is an internationally renowned institution. Its international-student body is extensive (roughly one-third of enrolment is international, according to the registration statistics as of Fall 2016):
“It’s appalling that a student representative is calling for violence against a certain group of people,” Paransky said. “And it is not an isolated incident. It is happening in a context of increased hostility to students on campus, mostly students of Jewish faith but also students of non-Jewish faith who are allies of Jewish students.”
In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
If you are as incensed as so many of us are, please speak up. Share this article. Talk about it with your family, friends, kids, parents. Let McGill University know that you do not support their permitting Igor Sadikov to remain on campus, much less a student representative.
You are speaking up for this situation, but you are also investing in the future of humanity – one person at a time.
Will you join us?