Montreal’s McGill University Must Expel Anti-Semitic Student Rep

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.

Until now.

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:

— 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):

What would happen, should potential students in the international community were to find out that a known anti-Semite, elected to be a student rep, and remaining untouched by the University itself, is encouraging the rest of the student body to punch Zionists? (And I don’t care if the tweet has been deleted, it’s out there and has been publicized – the damage is done)
What would happen, should parents/family members in the international community, with students already at McGill University, were to hear that a known hater was allowed to stay, not only harboring hateful thoughts toward those with whom he disagrees, but encouraging violence – and most likely continuing those thoughts among friends and like-minded classmates?
McGill University would lose a great deal of its income, should that happen. Who knows? It may already be happening, with this incident being reported throughout Canada, the USA, Israel, and other countries.
Sadikov has angered an untold number of people, Jews and non-Jews alike. If anyone is not enraged by his tweet, and his attitude, I would urge them to ask themselves why (that is, if they don’t already know it is because they agree with him).
History is a perfect, effective guideline for us to use to inform our actions. It may not have been during Sadikov’s lifetime – it wasn’t during mine – but it was not too long ago that Jews in Eastern Europe were attacked in this very same manner.
Note: I do not invoke comparisons to Nazi Germany casually. I recognize the profound depths of horror that period in history represents, but it’s an apt comparison to draw here. Not only because of 1930s Nazism, but because there are anti-Semites who are continuing to perpetuate their hatred even today.
There was no Internet then, but there was media, and there were posters, songs, jingles, and directives from Nazi Germany to perpetrate violence upon Jews. 
Nazi Germany, led by Hitler, and the implementation of  “The Final Solution” to exterminate the Jewish people, was a place and time of hatred, based on identity. There are many, many stories of Jews being accosted in the streets, Jewish men being subjected to scissors cutting off their beards and hair, for purposes of humiliation as well as stripping them of their identity. There are many stories of Jews being tormented en masse, unable to fight back for fear of being killed – because those humiliating them were armed, and sanctioned by Hitler’s government.
Jews were subjected to hatred borne by those who needed very little in the way of a reason in order to harm, or kill them. 
And now, Jewish students – Zionists or not – are being subjected to the very real possibility of violence against them, encouraged by a member of the student body who has been elected to represent the students in the faculty of arts.
In fact, the law student who brought the tweet to the public eye (Simon Paransky) stated, in an interview:

“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.”

How is the person who unleashed this upon the student community at McGill University being allowed to stay on at the school?
There are many of us, mobilizing to protest this student’s existence at McGill. We are protesting his continued status as student rep, and as student at all. We are calling upon McGill University to expel him, or – as the most recent reports say – force his resignation. 
If he is allowed to stay, I hope the community – local, and international – will govern themselves accordingly. Funding should be stopped. Enrolment should be stopped, and perhaps transfers out of McGill become the norm.
Sadly, it is only the threat of financial loss – and/or negative publicity – that will force the hand of the University.
This is not going away. Nor should it. We should ALL be speaking up, we should ALL be railing against the tolerance of violent rhetoric, anti-Semitism, and hatred condoned by an internationally renowned institution of higher education.
Because today it is anti-Semitism – tomorrow it could be any of a number of other groups targeted for violence and hatred.
And the way I see it, if McGill does nothing about this, they are condoning – perhaps even endorsing – the call for violence, and should be consequenced accordingly.
One last note: where is Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau? This story has been circulating for almost 24 hours, and he has always been quick to condemn violence against Muslims, but seemingly silent when Jews have been involved.
As the leader of our country, as a Montrealer himself, he should be speaking up, condemning the student, and adding to the pressure upon McGill to expel Sadikov permanently.
Along with our call to protest McGill’s harboring of an anti-Semitic student rep, we call upon the Prime Minister to speak up against this student and join us in our urging McGill University to act.
Folks, not everyone is an activist. Some people just prefer to stay out of it, and disengage while harboring their own private thoughts. 
But even if you disavow this student and what he stands for, in your thoughts, it is not enough. If we all remain silent, what can change? Silence can be deadly.
I will end with the wise words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:

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?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *