Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Gene.arboit
Roddick Gates and main entrance to McGill University

Two Jewish organizations have praised The administration at McGill University this week for its prompt condemnation of a vicious anti-Semitic attack by the Student Society on one of its (Jewish) members last week, ordering her to either cancel a trip to Israel, or resign as student representative.

Jordyn Wright refused to comply with the ultimatum after being warned that if she did not, she would risk impeachment upon her return from the Hillel-sponsored trip abroad. The “Face to Face” program is intended to foster better understanding of the region.

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Jewish Student at Montreal’s McGill University Told: Cancel Trip to Israel or Withdraw from Student Govt.

McGill Deputy Provost of Student Life and Learning, Fabrice Labeau had said in an email to the student body that the decision by the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council had “fostered a culture of ostracization” and was “contrary to the University’s values of inclusion, diversity and respect.”

“While our University fully respects freedom of speech, it is also committed to maintaining a respectful environment for all members of our community. We are thus highly disturbed by the vote taken on November 28, 2019, by the SSMU Legislative Council, in relation to some student leaders enrolling in Hillel Montreal’s Face to Face program to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories.”

“While diversity of opinion is fundamental and should be respected at all times, polarization that reaches a point where it fosters a culture of ostracization, or when our students do not feel respected on our campuses because of their identity, religious and political beliefs, will not be tolerated … “there is absolutely no place for discriminatory behavior, attitude or discourse that run contrary to our core values and principles. As Deputy Provost, Student Life and Learning, and with a strong mandate from the Principal, I will remain vigilant to ensure that all members of our community feel safe, welcomed and respected on our campuses.”

Rabbi Reuven Poupko, co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs- Québec (CIJA- Québec), praised Labeau’s emailed statement condemning the threats.

“We are hopeful that the Deputy Provost’s statement will have its intended effect and … the student body will firmly reject the harassment, intimidation, and exclusion of its members and henceforth refrain from raising obstacles to students’ freedom to pursue new and formative experiences,” Poupko said.

“CIJA will continue to monitor developments on McGill’s campus and provide support to our partners at Hillel and the students at McGill who are addressing these instances of discrimination from the front line.”

The Hasbara Canada organization also noted that McGill’s stance in support of Wright was an important victory for freedom of speech, human rights and Jewish students, not just at McGill, but on campuses from across the country.

“Given the hostile anti-Semitic climate on campuses today following incidents at York, U of T St. George, and U of T Scarborough, providing trips such as the Hillel ‘Face to Face’ program or the Hasbara Fellowships Canada program are essential in teaching students the reality about Israel, while also promoting tolerance, freedom of speech, objectivity, and an understanding of the issues,” said Daniel Koren, the group’s executive director.

“We would like to, again, congratulate Wright on taking a principled stand against anti-Jewish bias and bigotry,” he added. “Kol HaKavod!”

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