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York University Moves to Suppress Offensive Speech — But Only When Jews Are Speaking

The Canadian university hosts the odious anti-Semite and pro-terrorist George Galloway, and moves to suppress the free speech rights of a Jewish rabbi for condemning him.

by
Richard Cravatts

Bio

November 19, 2010 - 12:00 am
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In October 2009, for instance, in an action that seemed to give credence to notion that there was, and remains, a sinister and dangerous side to anti-Israel activism on college campuses, the U.S. Justice Department initiated an investigation into possible illegal fundraising on behalf of Hamas participated in by UC Irvine’s Muslim Student Union (MSU). Based on a formal complaint by the Zionist Organization of America, the investigation would look into allegations that Galloway had raised funds for the Viva Palestina project.

Galloway, who has referred to murderous thugs of Hamas “as heroes [who]  are opening the eyes of the world to the siege in the Strip,” and who elevates the Palestinian cause as a sacred mission against the tyranny of Western imperialism, had attended a May 2009 event on the Irvine campus sponsored by the university’s MSU, “Israel: The Politics of Genocide,” and used the opportunity not only to condemn Israel for its many alleged transgressions, but also to raise money to assist its enemies in arming themselves to further their ambition of extirpating the Jewish state.  His real intention, and the spurious purpose of Viva Palestina’s fundraising, was on full display in 2009, when Galloway presented a satchel of cash to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. “This is not charity,” he said as he defiantly passed the money to Haniyeh at that meeting, “this is politics.” What is more, he contended, he was fully intent on “break[ing] the sanctions on the elected government of Palestine.”

Galloway’s type of rhetoric and ideology is not unknown by the York administration, where radicalized students had already revealed a rabid anti-Semitic leaning when, in February 2009, some 100 pro-Palestinian students initiated a near-riot. Police had to be called to usher Jewish students to safety after they had been barricaded inside the Hillel offices and were “isolated and threatened” by the physically and verbally aggressive demonstrators.

Parroting the morally incoherent and factually defective exhortations of Israel-haters elsewhere, the York mob, which consisted of members of both the York Federation of Students and Students Against Israeli Apartheid, demonstrated once again that what is positioned as “intellectual debate” on campuses about the Israeli/Palestinian issue has devolved into something that is not really a conversation at all. York’s supporters of the cult of Palestinianism apparently no longer felt even a bit uncomfortable voicing what is actually on their minds when the subject of Israel comes up: when the York Hillel students were trapped inside locked offices, surrounded by an increasingly violent and aggressive mob, the intellectual “debate” that day included such invidious and raw slurs as “die Jew ― get the hell off campus.”

That thuggery by pro-Palestinian Jew-haters had already become something of a tradition on the York campus. A year earlier, in April 2008, York’s Hillel had invited then-Knesset member Natan Sharansky to deliver an address. Not content with allowing anyone with a pro-Israel viewpoint to shares his or her views on campus, the Palestinian Students Association and Students Against Israeli Apartheid@York (SAIA) used the now common tactic of intellectual bullies on American and Canadian campuses: They jeered at and shouted down Sharansky, spoke loudly among themselves during his talk, and generally prevented anyone in the audience from listening to the content of the speech, but not before they had articulated their own vitriol with such comments as “get off our campus, you genocidal racist” and “you are bringing a second Holocaust upon yourselves.”

Even more disingenuous in York’s behavior toward Rabbi Hoch is their prior hypocrisy in suppressing pro-Israel events on campus at the same time they facilitated or were complicit in allowing hate-fests such as Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) held in March 2010 at York.

In the month prior to Israeli Apartheid Week events,  a group called Imagine With Us had planned a series of lectures to counter the invidious content of the IAW activities. Imagine With Us, according to Michael Mostyn, national director of public affairs for B’nai Brith Canada, is a Jewish/Christian coalition that is a “multi-faith, multi-political movement that is concerned with maintaining Canadian values and keeping our campuses safe from hatred, discrimination and radical incitement, particularly from those subscribing to radical Islam,” a mission that would seemingly be eagerly embraced by a university administration. But York leaders would have none of it, evidently pressured by Muslim students who were not interested in an alternative discussion about Israel and the Palestinians. The administration immediately took the outrageous step of requiring Imagine With Us to “include a formidable police and campus security presence paid for by the organizers, a list of all attendees in advance, a minute-by-minute synopsis of all speakers talking points and a ban on public advertising of the event at York and on satellite campuses.” When the coalition could not, or chose not to, comply with the onerous regulations, York canceled the event.

But the reason given for the cancellation — that the event posed a potential risk necessitating costly additional security services — was specious at best, and revealed yet another danger for free expression on campuses as a result of accommodating the wishes of groups who wish to suppress the speech of others, the content of which they do not wish to hear or have heard. In fact, York admitted that the expensive mandated security detail was necessary, not because of the likelihood that participants in the Imagine With Us events would be unruly, but “due to the participation of individuals who they claim invite the animus of anti-Israel campus agitators”; in other words, the mere potential threat of violence from pro-Palestinians, as a result of hearing speech that they did not agree with and could not abide, meant that York officials thought it appropriate and acceptable to expunge it before it could even be heard in the university’s much-vaunted “marketplace of ideas.”

It apparently never occurred to the York administration that Jewish students and other supporters of Israel may also take offense during the repellent Israeli Apartheid Week, when libels, lies, and distortions about history and fact portray Israel as a racist and brutual rogue state among the community of nations, and Israel’s supporters, and Jewish students in particular are made to confront vilification, ridicule, and slander. It evidently does not bother the administration, either, when an intellectual charlatan like George Galloway comes to campus and proudly expresses his affinity for and admiration of terrorists whose sole purpose is the murder of Jews and the extirpation of the Jewish state.

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Richard L. Cravatts, PhD, director of the Program in Publishing & Digital Media at Boston University, just finished a book, Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel & Jews.
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