From the Desk of Avi Benlolo: Standing Proudly with Jewish Students on Campus

November 22, 2019

Editorial

This week, FSWC was on the ground at York University supporting Jewish students and IDF reservists who were met with intimidation and violence by anti-Israel protesters during an on-campus event. After documenting the antisemitic protest that took place, our team spent yesterday reaching out to a number of authorities - including Chief of Police Mark Saunders, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mayor John Tory and York University President Rhonda Lenton - demanding them to investigate and denounce the protest and ongoing antisemitism taking place at the university.

We note today's statement from Prime Minister Trudeau, who said, "On Wednesday night, violence & racist chants broke out against an event organized by the Jewish community at York University. What happened that night was shocking and absolutely unacceptable. Anti-Semitism has no place in Canada. We will always denounce it & all forms of hatred." Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said, "I'm appalled by the intimidating scenes that occurred last night at York University. I unequivocally condemn the acts of antisemitism faced by the members of the Jewish community at the event. Nobody in Canada should feel unsafe because of their ethnicity."

Premier Ford also released a statement in which he said, “I am disappointed that York University allowed for a hate-filled protest to take place last night at Vari Hall. I stand with the Jewish students and the Jewish community. There is no place in Ontario for racism and hatred." Mayor Tory said: “I am very disturbed by the apparent polarization and violence…of last night at York University. Antisemitism and violence is totally unacceptable.”

Yesterday at FSWC headquarters, we welcomed the four brave IDF reservists who came to Toronto to speak openly and honestly about Israel at York University. In an attempt to silence the reservists and stop the event, the antisemitic student group Students Against Israeli Apartheid organized a protest that at times turned violent. Doors of the hall where the event was taking place were blocked and banged on while protesters also yelled "intifada" and "viva viva Palestina."  

During a conversation with York University President Rhonda Lenton, I demanded the university launch an investigation into the security measures undertaken by York to protect Jewish students; shut down radical and violence-promoting groups like SAIA; conduct a review of antisemitism at the university, especially in the faculty, administration and the student union; and enforce tolerance training programs. Our conversation with York, law enforcement and with our political leaders will continue over the next few weeks and months.  

FSWC stands proudly in support of the remarkable reservists who have fought for Israel in the field and now on university campuses, as well as with Jewish students and organizations who wish to express themselves in defence of Israel and the Jewish community.

Shabbat Shalom,

~ Avi

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