Toronto (November 6, 2019) – Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) condemns the blatant antisemitism and discrimination that has taken over the discourse and practice at the McGill Daily, one of the largest student newspapers in Canada.
In an editorial in Monday’s edition, Daily editors falsely described Zionism as a “colonial movement,” a “racist attitude” and “a violent practice,” and advised students who wanted to learn more about Zionism to refer to a leading BDS website for more information.
The editorial also expressed outrage at the McGill University administration, which had stepped in to apply pressure on the editorial board to publish a Letter-to-the-Editor written by two Jewish pro-Israel law students decrying the paper’s antisemitic description of Zionism. According to the Daily’s own constitution, it is required to publish all letters to the editor it receives. Regardless, the editors refused to publish the letter on the basis that pro-Israel students are not entitled to be part of a “dialogue that gives a platform to ideas which dehumanize a group of people.”
After McGill administrators threatened to pull Daily funding over the issue, the paper’s editors capitulated and published the letter titled "Response to McGill Daily on Zionism," which also appeared in Monday’s issue. The thoughtful and well-crafted letter pointed out that, “There’s a reason why the vast majority of Jews around the world (especially those at McGill) identify as Zionist, and it’s not because they’re violent, racist, colonialists; it’s because they actually understand what Zionism is and through their lived experiences, understand why it’s necessary.” The letter went on to describe the centuries of exclusion, forced conversion and genocide faced by the Jewish Diaspora and noted that the central premise of Zionism is that “the best way to ensure Jewish survival was to put our destiny into our own hands.”
Although the letter made no reference to Palestinian people beyond a passing mention of BDS founder Omar Barghouti, the Daily’s editorial called the letter “unconscionable in its dehumanization of the Palestinian people.”
“It is not the first time the McGill Daily has targeted the Jewish community with fabricated theories and by fomenting antisemitism,” said Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of FSWC. “It’s time for the university administration to shake out the newspaper from those who spread hate and intolerance against our community.”
In June 2019, the Canadian government officially adopted the definition of antisemitism endorsed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). According to the IHRA, “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor,” is by definition antisemitic.