A student activist group of a Canadian university has admitted to waging a campaign of anti-Semitism against Jewish students.
The seven student panel of McGill University’s Judicial Board voted to reject an anti-Israel boycott/divestment/sanction referendum before the Student Society’s general assembly in September.
According to The Algemeiner, the Judicial board stated that “picking a side” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would hamper the student government’s “ability to create an open, inviting atmosphere for students of Israeli origins.”
The ruling led to the creation of the activist group “Democratize SSMU,” which the group’s Facebook page claims was formed “as a reaction to the unjust…ruling declaring BDS unconstitutional.”
The group has just over 150 followers.
After it was formed, Democratize SSMU began a campaign which singled out three members of the student government, all of them Jewish.
According to the National Post, the group claimed the three students were “all either fellows at the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee, an organization whose explicit mandate is to promote pro-Israel discourse in Canadian politics, or primary organizers for the anti-BDS initiative at McGill.”
Noah Lew, one of the targeted students, was up for ratification to the Board of Directors of the student government. Lew, who is Jewish, was denied ratification by a vote of 105 against, with 73 in favor and 12 abstaining.
“I was initially very shaken,” Lew told the National Post, referring to the vote. “It was an extremely tense and emotional room, and more than anything it was overwhelming. I was also very sad.”
Josephine Wright O’Manique and Alexander Scheffel, two other anti-BDS directors, were also voted out.
“Essentially what they did is accuse (Lew and two other Jewish students) of exercising undue political power, of being corrupt,” said fourth-year political science and economics student, Jonathan Glustein.
Glustein was also targeted in the campaign.
After the vote in late October, Democratize SSMU admitted to using anti-Semitic rhetoric while campaigning against Lew.
The group wrote in a Facebook post:
Democratize SSMU would like to apologize unreservedly for the harm that was done through some of our campaign material. The material in question has since been deleted, but for transparency’s sake we would like to apologize for the way in which an event created by this campaign was insensitive to anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish people as corrupt and politically powerful. We thoroughly apologize for any harm that the statement caused. We want to validate that anti-Semitism is not acceptable anywhere, and is a real and toxic force in our society and on campus.
An investigation into the incident was launched by the school’s principal, Suzanne Fortier. Fortier set up a hotline so people “can report incidents of intolerance based on religion or ethnic origin occurring on our campuses,” the National Post reports.
The university is also creating a “task force” with the goal of examining “broader questions of academic freedom and equity.”
“Both Lew and Scheffel were involved in passing two extremely controversial decisions in just the last month, [without informing the public of them] in their fulfilling their role of making a political decision about who will represent them,” a representative from Democratize SSMU told The College Fix. “We apologize for any harm that has been done, while at the same time reaffirming our aims, which are to make democracy at SSMU accessible, transparent, and meaningful, not to create division within the student body… We will continue to fight for a more democratic SSMU.”
The representative attempted to justify the actions of the group by claiming Lew is “an active member of Zionist organizations” and said that his “politics interfered with his duties as a Director.”
StandWithUs, a pro-Israel activist organization, stated that the actions of the activist group a “smear campaign” against the Jewish students.
The organization also called on SSMU to reverse their vote and “publicly condemn this bigotry”
“We are proud of McGill students who are standing up to hate on their campus,” the organization added.
McGill University did not respond to The College Fix‘s request for comment.
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