SPHR strikes again – at Carleton University this time.
Up until recently, Carleton has been more known for its party atmosphere than its politics. But then SPHR started a chapter there.
This latest controversy centers around the SPHR exhibit entitled “Carleton under Occupation”. The disgusting display included a mock graveyard with a huge banner reading “Made in Israel”, as well as SPHR members pretending to be Israeli soldiers setting up a “checkpoint” and hassling students for ID as they walked by. You may recall that a nearly-identical exhibit was staged at Concordia last year – my sense is they probably took the exact same display materials and set them up at Carleton.
Initially, the Carleton administration did not want to allow this exhibit to take place. SPHR began its usual howling about having its freedoms trampled upon, and at some point, the university caved and the display took place as scheduled.
But now, it turns out (surprise, surprise) that the rights of Jewish students to peacefully protest this display were shut down. In a news release sent out by Hillel / the Jewish Student Association at Carleton, it was described how students weren’t even permitted to so much as speak out against SPHR’s exhibit:
Four Jewish students arrived at Bakers Lounge in the University Centre at 10:15 A.M. with signs informing people of the real reason and need for checkpoints (e.g. “Checkpoints help ensure the safety of civilians”). Immediately upon entering Bakers Lounge they were greeted by the Dean of Students, the Head of Security for Carleton and the incoming President of the Carleton Univeristy Students Association and they were told that they were not permitted to display their signs. After much arguing and trying to win the right to silently protest the SPHR event, they ultimately had no choice but to give up (under threat of having security evict them). The Jewish students then decided to stand near the “checkpoint” area and cheer the “Israeli” soldiers on, thanking them for doing their job of securing the safety of citizens. As soon as the first student did this (very calmly saying ” Check those people well. Thank you for keeping citizens safe”), a Carleton security guard approached him and told him he could not say anything or he would be removed from the campus!!
After three hours of being silenced and back and forth arguing, the students were finally told that they could talk but that they would be closely watched for any signs of “provocation”. Clearly, yesterday was a sad day for Carleton University. It seems the hallowed right to freedom of expression is selectively applied in what is clearly a discriminatory manner. This is an intolerable situation and cannot continue.
At this point, my info is secondhand, so I’d be interested in hearing from people who were actually there about what went on. However, having seen the same exhibit last year at Concordia, I can certainly understand the desire of Jewish students to protest. If it was like the Concordia one, even students normally uninvolved in politics were overwhelmingly saying that SPHR had crossed the line – especially since at Concordia the exhibit was staged immediately after the Passover suicide bombing in Netanya that killed thirty people. The mock graveyard paying homage to terrorists while ignoring the true victims was not only tasteless, it was deliberately provocative.
And even more typical was SPHR’s tactic of demanding freedom of speech for its own viewpoint – through threats and intimidation, if necessary – while simultaneously preventing its opponents from exercising those same freedoms. We saw it with the Concordia Netanyahu riots, we saw it with the attempt to prevent an Israeli journalist from speaking at UQÀM, we saw it in the attempt to prevent Daniel Pipes from speaking at York. It seems that, according to SPHR, freedom of speech only applies to people they agree with.
(Hat tip: Steven)