FSWC Commends McGill University for Standing Up for Jewish Student Threatened by Student Council

December 3, 2019

Statement

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) commends McGill University administration for standing up for a Jewish student who was recently threatened with removal from the Students’ Society of McGill University if she accepted a sponsored trip to Israel.

Last week, the SSMU Legislative Council approved a motion that singled out the student for accepting a trip to Israel funded by Hillel Montreal, calling for her to either cancel the trip or be removed as a member of the SSMU Board of Directors.

“The decision made by the SSMU Legislative Council is contrary to the University’s values of inclusion, diversity and respect,” said Fabrice Labeau, McGill University’s Deputy Provost for Student Life and Learning, in a statement. “The McGill administration will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds, and take needed measures to ensure that our students feel safe and free of harassment, including holding SSMU accountable to the principles and values of its own Constitution.”

“We commend McGill University for recognizing the seriousness of this situation and sending a message that discrimination and singling out students for their beliefs will not be tolerated on campus,” said FSWC president and CEO Avi Benlolo. “As we witness a growing trend on Canadian university campuses of students targeting and attacking Jewish students simply because of their connection to Israel, it is up to administration to step up and take immediate steps to ensure the rights of all students are protected as well as respect and tolerance is maintained.”

In a letter to McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier yesterday, FSWC expressed concern over the SSMU Legislative Council motion, calling it a “thinly veiled pretense for removing a Jewish student with pro-Israel views from the council.” This letter follows a letter sent in early November to Labeau regarding the university’s student newspaper, McGill Daily, and its efforts to demonize mainstream Jewish perspectives after it refused to publish a letter to the editor written by two Jewish students decrying the paper’s antisemitic description of Zionism. The editors of McGill Daily ultimately published the letter to the editor after the university intervened and threatened to pull Daily funding.

UPDATE: Following the administration’s statement and a reported meeting between Labeau, Fortier and SSMU’s president and director, SSMU’s Board of Directors voted to overturn the motion during a meeting to ratify motions yesterday.

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