Free speech is dying and antisemitism is thriving on university campuses across North America. Toronto’s York University is proving to be one of the most toxic environments in Canada for Jewish students and supporters of Israel.
For many years now, administrators at this university have shown a lack of moral leadership that has only served to embolden those who have no regard or tolerance for the opinions of others resulting in overt and transparent acts of antisemitism.
In January, 2016, Paul Bronfman, a leading Canadian film industry executive and a scion of one of the country’s wealthiest families withdrew his support for York University after they refused to remove a pro-Palestinian anti-Semitic mural.
This past January, 2019, Toronto’s York University held its annual Multicultural Week Parade.
According to the York Federation of Students (YFS) website, the event is “a chance for students, faculty and staff to celebrate their cultures and embrace the diversity of the York Community.”
But, as reported by The Jerusalem Post, not all students were on-board with that message, and some chose “to spread hate and antisemitism instead.” During opening ceremonies, the student conducting the event wore an “Anti-Zionist vibes only” t-shirt.
In a statement released on Facebook, York University Hillel noted that the event’s “inclusive spirit excluded Jewish students.“
Sadly, this type of open and virulent antisemitism is all too common on campuses across North America and York is no exception. On the contrary, antisemitism thrives at York as we saw in a story that made international news back in November of 2019.
Last fall, York was the site of an egregious example of how far anti-Israel groups are willing to go to silence opposing voices when the unapologetically Zionist campus group Herut Canada invited five former IDF soldiers to the university to talk about their lives in Israel, answer questions about the IDF, and discuss the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) movement.
Rather than having a few hours of open dialogue and a free exchange of ideas in a university setting as Herut Canada had hoped, three hours of chaos ensued when a near riot erupted outside the event.
Members of the campus group SAIA (Students Against Israeli Apartheid) banged on walls, used bullhorns to scream hateful anti-Israel, anti-Semitic slogans and intimidated participants in an effort to shut down the event.
Fortunately that didn’t happen, but days after the event, York Federation of Students (YFS) passed a motion to ban Israeli speakers from campus and York administration banned both Herut and SAIA taking a ludicrous “neutral” approach, highly inappropriate in this case since there was a clear victim and an obvious perpetrator.
Police, campus security and Herut Canada’s own private security, kept them safe from the mob this time but so far, despite having evidence in the form of video of the event, there have been no arrests and no one has been punished meaning that these egregious acts of injustice and violence towards supporters of Israel will continue unabated.
RAIR Foundation wants to do more than just report these stories of injustice and whenever possible, will provide a platform for those who have been silenced and get involved in the kind of activism that is required to see us return to a healthy liberal democracy where rule of law prevails and everyone has the freedom to speak.
In an exclusive interview with RAIR Foundation, Lauren Isaacs, the Toronto Director of Herut Canada, explains what happened that night, and shares her insights about the Muslim student groups and their Leftist sympathizers, and the suspect Jewish groups that contribute to the toxic environment that exists on university campuses.
Call to Action:
If you would like to support Lauren and Herut Canada in fighting back against the transparent antisemitism and shutting down of free speech, you can send a message to the high level administration of York University with the contact information provided below:
Contact York University:
4700 Keele Street
Phone: (416) 736-2100