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Ten years ago today, this was the scene at Concordia University:

smashwindows

The riot was a culmination of more than five years of tensions at Concordia between the radical left-wing CSU groups, which were dominated by members of the pro-Palestinian group SPHR, and pro-Israel groups like Hillel.

Concordia Hillel had invited Benjamin Netanyahu, who at the time was the former Israeli PM, to speak on campus. The radical anti-Israel groups saw this as a reason to mount a mass protest, which quickly turned into a full-fledged riot. Protesters smashed windows, hurled antisemitic slogans at ticket-holders, assaulted and beat up several attendees, and were eventually contained by police. Five people were arrested and faced charges in connection with the riot. The rioting also inspired two documentary films, a rash of ill-advised free speech restrictions on campus, and worldwide infamy for my school.

I’d graduated from Concordia the previous spring, after spending three years on campus dealing with the events that led to that flashpoint, and they were fresh in my mind. As it happened, September 9th 2002 was my first day of my first post-university job, and news of what was happening back at my former campus filtered to me as I was sitting in my new office immersed in training materials.

In a way, the riot was the catalyst that inspired me to start this blog a couple of months later. I focused a lot on the goings-on and events at Concordia for the first couple of years, though the posts eventually tapered off as I gained more distance from my university years. But at the time, as a recent graduate with a lot of friends still directly involved in the day-to-day events on campus, I had a lot to say, and this blog gave me a platform to share news and views about the events that followed.

Now, a decade later, Benjamin Netanyahu is once again Israeli Prime Minister, the radical Left is busy bringing down Quebec governments and staging pots and pans protests, and Concordia University is in the hands of a new generation of student leaders who, since 2003, have been mostly moderates. However, some students have noted that the situation isn’t necessarily any less hostile to Jewish students, just quieter. Concordia has hosted an “Israel Apartheid Week“, an event by the ever-present SPHR, for the past 8 years running. Despite the presence of a couple of new pro-Israel student groups at Concordia, the tensions continue. It’s not difficult to see why Jewish students continue to choose McGill over Concordia by an overwhelming margin.

Furthermore, on university campuses across North America and Europe pro-Israel students are still dealing with having their right to free speech denied, barrages of anti-Israel propaganda from campus activist groups, “boycott Israel” events and other such nonsense. A recent study by the University of California, published in July of this year, found that:

“Jewish students are confronting significant and difficult climate issues as a result of activities on campus which focus specifically on Israel, its right to exist and its treatment of Palestinians. The anti-Zionism and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movements and other manifestations of anti-Israel sentiment and activity create significant issues through themes and language which portray Israel and, many times, Jews in ways which project hostility, engender a feeling of isolation, and undermine Jewish students’ sense of belonging and engagement with outside communities.”

Another report released earlier this year found that “More than 40% of students confirm anti-Semitism on their campus; some 41% of students have encountered anti-Israel remarks made in class by professors.” From North America to Europe, the situation for Jewish students remains pretty grim.

As Quebec students continue to lobby for free or cheaper education, it’s worth asking just what sort of education they will be receiving.

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The gunman who opened fire at Virginia Tech in a massacre that killed 32 people, including Montrealer Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, has been identified as 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui. Dawson College and other schools across Montreal lowered their flags to half-mast today in solidarity.

Of course, this has been the headline news of the last couple of days, so there is no shortage of reaction, finger-pointing, and laying blame.

…in my view, the problem with responding to news of tragedy with policy ideas right away is that we tend not to realize in such situations how often our “proposals” are really expressions of psychological need. It’s human nature to respond to tragedy by fitting it into our preexisting worldviews; we instinctively restore order by construing the tragic event as a confirmation of our sense of the world rather than a threat to it.

This means that often we won’t pay a lot of attention to the details of tragedies and what caused them. We’ll just know deep down inside what happened, and what caused it, and how to stop it next time. Take [yesterday's] tragic events at VA Tech. If you’re committed to gun control, the tragedy probably proves to you that there are too many guns; if you’re against gun control, the tragedy probably proves the exact opposite. Given that people will tend to see in events what they want to see, turning to policy right away will come off as rudely “playing politics” to those who don’t share your worldview. And obviously this doesn’t foster a helpful environment for policymaking, either.

(Via Damian P., who points out that “the responsibility rests with one man”).

This pretty much echoes what I wrote after the shooting at Dawson last September. It’s tragic enough as-is; the finger-pointing and agenda pushing only makes it worse.

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Concordia’s up to its old tricks again

03.28.2007

It’s been nearly five years since I graduated, and since then, it appears that CSU politics at Concordia haven’t improved by much: For the second year running, copies of Concordia University’s student newspaper, The Link, vanished overnight at the height of the campaign for a new student government. And while editor-in-chief Misha Warbanski doesn’t know [...]

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“I don’t like Wednesdays”

09.14.2006

I’ve had this song stuck in my head all day.

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Wiki-concision

09.14.2006

Of all the descriptions I’ve seen of Kimveer Gill, the asshole who shot up Dawson College yesterday, the most concise and to-the-point comes courtesy of Wikipedia. Here’s a screen shot of the page, because I suspect it won’t be like this for long: And that pretty much says it all. Update – 3:45pm: It’s gone [...]

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Dawson tragedy: Overnight update

09.14.2006

By now, most people will have heard the latest developments. The young woman who succumbed to her injuries has been identified as Anastasia DeSousa. She was only 18 years old. Six more people are still in critical condition this morning, and hospital sources say that two of them are still “fighting for their lives”. My [...]

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Dawson shooting summary

09.13.2006

If you’ve arrived here via Instapundit, looking for info about the school shootings in Montreal, welcome, and scroll down to here for the live-blogging coverage from this afternoon. But I must say I’m a little uncomfortable with the trauma-induced traffic spike thing. I know it’s a fact of life on the blogosphere, but I sort [...]

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To the speculators, politicizers and agenda-pushers

09.13.2006

I’ve been surfing some of the other blogs to see what’s up there about today’s shootings at Dawson, and the comments sections are making my head spin. I realize some of you may be first-time visitors, and I’m sorry for doing this, but I need to rant: To everyone out there trying to use today’s [...]

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Dear Dawson Students… from a Marianopolis alumna

09.13.2006

Nearly a decade ago, when I was in my final year of high school, the big question was “where are you going to cegep?” For students of my English-language, Jewish school, there were essentially four choices: Marianopolis, Dawson, Vanier or John Abbott. The relative popularities and reputations of the schools tend to go in cycles, [...]

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Shooting at Dawson

09.13.2006

I was driving home from a trip to the Fine Arts Museum and saw massive commotion downtown near Alexis-Nihon Plaza and Dawson College. Dozens of police cars, thousands of people on the streets, sirens everywhere. I couldn’t for the life of me imagine what happened, so I turned on the radio. Apparently, there’s been a [...]

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