FSWC Condemns Antisemitic Protest at York U, Demands Admin Protects the Rights of Jewish Students

November 20, 2019

Statement

Toronto (November 20, 2019) - Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) condemns the blatantly antisemitic efforts being made by anti-Israel student groups at York University to derail an event tonight organized by Jewish students which will feature talks by IDF reservists. FSWC demands that the university administration step in to ensure that Jewish students can exercise their rights to free speech without fear of harassment and intimidation.

Tonight’s event at York University will feature IDF reservists who will speak to students about Israel and their experiences in the army. The reservists' visit to the university has sparked a “no killers on campus” campaign organized by anti-Israel student groups. Flyers protesting the event now cover the walls of the campus, portraying a photoshopped image of an IDF soldier who appears to be strangling a child. Anti-Israel groups have vowed to disrupt the event and are circulating a number of chants students can use to derail the event, such as “From Toronto to Gaza, Globalize the Intifada!”

In a letter written to the York University President and the Vice-Provost Students, FSWC has demanded that the university takes determined action to ensure tonight’s event goes forward without disruption and that the university take a firm stand against the antisemitic tropes being propagated by anti-Israel student groups on campus.

“Israeli soldiers serve a democratic state that is the most humane in its conduct and method than any state on earth,” wrote Avi Benlolo, President and CEO of FSWC. “The allowance of this type of antisemitic behaviour on campus has already made York University an inhospitable place for Jewish students, and it is time for the administration to stand up to the hatred.”

Yesterday, the IDF reservists sat at a table in York’s Vari Hall with sweatshirts that read “Defending Freedom From Hate,” inviting students to approach them with questions about Israel and its army. Some students approached the table with genuine curiosity and interest in hearing about Israel’s security challenges. “What is BDS?” asked one student. “Why is Israel fighting Gaza?” asked another. The soldiers engaged with student questions, armed with pamphlets, information and chocolates. Other students approached the soldiers with insults and swear words. “Baby killer!” one student shouted at a soldier. The soldier offered him a chocolate and asked if he wanted to sit down and talk, but the student refused.

The FSWC Director of the Campaign Against Antisemitism is working closely with the pro-Israel student club which brought the IDF reservists to campus. Earlier this fall, the York Federation of Students refused to ratify the club, despite the fact that it had already ratified an antisemitic student club that falsely accuses Israel of apartheid. After an unrelenting advocacy campaign launched by FSWC, the York Federation of Students relented and accepted the club.

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