Gaza U once again at Concordia

10.04.04

Another semester, another scandal.

This time, Hillel submitted a request to bring Ehud Barak to speak at Concordia, but, according to a press release from Hillel, the university has denied their request for anywhere on both campuses – even Loyola. Now, they’re holding a protest:

FREEDOM OF SPEECH DENIED AT CONCORDIA

First Ehud Barak, WHO’S NEXT ???

Join us for a FREE SPEECH RALLY:

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2004

12 PM at the corner of McKay and De Maisonneuve

Please read the open letter below for more information.

Dear fellow student,

We are writing to ask for your support. Last week, Concordia University denied former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak permission to speak anywhere on campus – including the quiet, and more easily guarded, Loyola campus – hiding behind a “security risk assessment”.

They claim that they cannot effectively secure their campuses. We say that it is their duty to protect their students and to allow freedom of speech to exist on their campuses.

A small group of thugs are holding an entire university community hostage and deciding who is allowed to speak and who is not. All people who value democratic principles such as freedom of expression and speech should share our outrage with this intolerable situation.

This is not acceptable in our Quebec and Canadian society. We ask for your cooperation in FREEING speech. We will be gathering outside Concordia’s Hall building on Tuesday at 12pm (Corner Mackay and Maisonneuve) calling for the Board of Governors, the Administration, the Faculty and students of Concordia to reclaim their campus.

This is a historic opportunity and no matter what your political affiliation is… This affects you!

Today is a day of great sadness for freedom of expression at universities and in Canadian society.

We invited Ehud Barak so that we could all learn from him. We have been told that the Administration has restored peace to its campuses. This unfortunate incident has demonstrated that we have appeased the violent side but we have not achieved true peace. Peace should not be confused with appeasement.

We will know that we have peace on campus when we can all learn together- when we can all reason together, safely, intelligently and constructively. For that, we and our parents sacrifice so much- in order to pay tuition and learn at this school.

In return, all we demand, is equal treatment and a safe learning environment, just like everyone else.

Is that too much to ask?

Looking forward to your support,

Yacov Fruchter

Montreal Hillel President

Jason Portnoy

Concordia Hillel co-President

When the idea was first floated to bring Ehud Barak – a left-wing dovish former Israeli PM who offered Yasser Arafat a historic settlement at Camp David in 2000 – to Concordia, there were mixed opinions. Some students thought he would be an interesting and valuable speaker.

Others, however, worried that bringing a “controversial” speaker like Barak (I guess at Concordia, anyone associated with Israel is controversial) would disrupt the relative calm that has returned to students’ lives over the past two years, and bring back the chaos and divisiveness of the period before and after the Netanyahu riots. For example, this student:

Forget all the bickering over how dovish or hawkish Barak is, or whether he has a right to come to Concordia. He’s a legitimate politician of a democratic state, and of course he should be permitted to speak, here or anywhere else. That said, it would be better for all of us if Barak did not come to Concordia. I say this not because I have anything against the man, but because this is the first year in all my time at Concordia where I can go to class without passing people in the Mezz screaming at each other, or reading inflammatory letters about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Link. We’re not making national headlines because of riots, moratoriums or arrests; and people now are talking about tuition fee hikes, fair trade coffee, the excellent performance of this year’s CSU, and other issues much more relevant to Concordia students at home. I like this kinder, gentler version of Concordia, and would very much resent Hillel, SPHR, or any other organization’s attempts to sabotage that simply to make a point. Bring Barak to a synagogue or a community centre, and I’d be the first person to see what he has to say. But for the love of God, not at my school. Not at the cost of setting us back another two years. Signed, -Another Jewish student sick of it all.

I am all too aware of what it’s like to go to a school that is in the midst of hostile tensions. The atmosphere on campus is finally calmer and friendlier, and I can understand why students wouldn’t want to shake things up again.

I can understand. But I vehemently disagree.

You see, denying Barak’s right to speak means letting the people who rioted against Netanyahu win. They used violence to shut down Netanyahu’s right to speak. In the process, they ensured that nobody they dislike would ever be allowed to speak on campus again, because the university would be too afraid to let them. So pro-Palestinian speakers are more than welcome at Concordia – there were several last year – but Israeli speakers are shunned.

That’s victory to thuggery over reason. That’s victory to – and no, I’m not exaggerating – terrorism over freedom. Because using violence or the threat of violence to shut down free speech is in fact a form of terrorism. SPHR and their friends have terrorized the university, the student population, and the administration, into

Above all, that’s a lack of a free, open exchange of ideas, which is what education is supposed to be all about.

This isn’t really about Barak who – despite his dovish politics, is going to be as demonized by SPHR and the Palestinian lobby as any Israeli. It has nothing to do with whether I liked Barak’s policies or Netanyahu’s or Ariel Sharon’s or anyone else.

This is about a competition of ideas, and whether one set of ideas will be allowed to shut down and stifle another. It’s about the future of Jewish students at university campuses all over North America, and whether they will have the right to bring in speakers or openly proclaim their views without fear of violence. It’s about whether we – as a society – want to accept the notion that anyone can speak at a university campus… except an Israeli.

As a Concordia alum, I support Hillel in this call to action. It is my hope – though, sadly, not my expectation – that any reasonable student, regardless of political affiliation or background – who supports the right to free speech, will go out there and join them.

I won’t be there in person but I’ll be there in spirit. Please spread the word.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 wannabe 10.04.04 at 9:40 PM

As a Canadian and as someone who attended university at a time when diversity of opinion seemed to be encouraged rather than discouraged, this makes me very ashamed, and wondering just what has happened to the ivory tower – it was already left leaning enough but at my alma mater, U.W.O., diverse voices including conservative voices were allowed a platform. Has the ivory tower so tarnished or have pro Palestinian/ anti Israelis students, whether “guests” or home grown, so co-opted the agenda that honest debate can no longer occur without the threat of violence.

You can’t progress without discussion and this censorship on a university campus is an appalling precedent.

Then again Quebec has always been the outsider, Quebeckers resisted the draft in both World Wars, they weren’t even interested in rescuing their French brethren from Nazis occupation let alone protecting English Canada, as they claimed these were English wars and none of their business. But they’ll fight to the death to keep Barak, hardly an Israelis hawk, off campus. Confusing huh.

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2 AG 10.04.04 at 10:25 PM

It’s ok to exclude Jews, because after all, we are just Jews.

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3 The Monster 10.04.04 at 10:29 PM

Every time a pro-Palistinian speaker shows up, you should be there with a large banner spelling out the double standard.

Probably have to be in both English and French, and with the French larger, of course.

“Seulement certains parler libre?”

Please fix my inevitable errors.

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4 Ivan in Cambridge 10.05.04 at 2:47 AM

“Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle! Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong, which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either rods or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
-Frederick Douglass

“Those who would surrender their freedom for security deserve neither.”
-Thomas Jefferson

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5 Robert McClelland 10.05.04 at 3:38 AM

Normally I’d side with you all on this, but the right whingers have brought this on themselves. They’ve been waging a war to keep speakers they don’t like from speaking at public venues for quite some time now. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander I always say. If the freeper retards stop the other side will stop. Until then, cry to your mamas, rubes.

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6 cliff from montreal 10.05.04 at 4:08 AM

Hey McClelland..
You said”Normally I’d side with you all on this”
You are so full of it rubbie.Truth is you always side with the Jew haters.You know what rubbie? You are nothing but a lowlife scumbag Jew hater.
So tell me rubbie..who is paying you to troll this garbage you spew?

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7 Harry in Atlanta 10.05.04 at 5:11 AM

It’s called dhimmitude.

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8 Malia 10.05.04 at 6:30 AM

This is shocking! What is happenning in Canada? First the sharia court now this! Your right Harry, the road to dhimmitude is well under way. If the reasonable people in Canda don’t speak up it will only get worse.

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9 josh 10.05.04 at 8:57 AM

Hip hip hooray for Concordia, and Canada!!!

I would have protested myself against Barak speaking, but not for the same reason that SPHR would claim.

You’d think that the 21st century would have ushered in a better Canada for all minorities, but the comfortable life you have there is just an illusion.

The letter you posted from ‘just another Jewish student’ is classic ‘want-to-be-left-alone’ diaspora talk. I would hope that he is the minority in the Jewish community, but I’m skeptical nonetheless. I hope more than a few hundred people show up to the demonstration. I would expect all Jews in the city to take off work for this and be there. This is important. Much more than the weekly Bnai Brith Friday lunch vigil.

But later in the afternoon after that, consider how much you’re wasting your time in Canada. Hakarat hatov, yes, but also time to wake up and smell the coffee.
Consider coming to Israel already becuase time is running out.

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10 Damian P. 10.05.04 at 12:43 PM

Normally I’d side with you all on this, but the right whingers have brought this on themselves.

So Hillel, the Jewish student organization, is now a bunch of “freepers” and “right whingers”. Interesting how Rubert will always – always – find a way to side with the Jew-haters, isn’t it?

Will you be heading down to the demonstration with a “F**k Jews” picket sign, Rubert?

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11 Tom Grey - Liberty Dad 10.05.04 at 3:03 PM

Thanks for an important issue.
Violent Intimidation is the same strategy the Iraqi terrorists have. I wrote up a lot on my own blog:
http://tomgrey.motime.com/1097005306#351508

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12 wannabe 10.05.04 at 3:41 PM

cite one example where so called right wingers have protested or done anything to prevent speakers at Concordia or anywhere on a Canadian campus, I have heard of no such incidents, Concordia is the only one making the news in Canada…….

now look at Palestinian universities and you’ll see an interesting picture, Arabs with moderate views are not allowed to speak, I recall a Palestinian student in 2002, 2003, had a lecture scheduled at Gaza university to discuss the failure of the intifidah and peaceful means to a solution and the university cancelled it………

the President of Hillel spoke on CFRB today and said the problem is that Concordia University has allowed itself to be hijacked by the rioters
at the Netanyahu fiasco, two years have passed and he says the students themselves have buried the hatchet so to speak and made peace but the administration is now too cowardly, it seems the administration has not kept up with its own student body, he was implying in my mind that no one had protested Barak coming to speak, the administration just made a knee jerk decision to refuse the request and are hiding behind the security concerns argument

So if a Arab student group wanted Yassir Arafat or better yet Abu Mazen would be a better comparison to Barak, IMO, are the security concerns suddenly going to be dealt with…….one wonders. (Of course most pro Israelis students would welcome Abu Mazen since he tried to tell the Arab world in December 2002 that the intifadah was a collosal failure, many Palestinians are just figuring that out now)

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13 wannabe 10.05.04 at 3:46 PM

I mean does Concordia allow any outside speakers?

Like has Michael Moore been invited?

I’d protest that fool but hey let him do his tripe, and those who want to listen to him can and let me protest…

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14 wannabe 10.05.04 at 3:51 PM

I answer my own question, the Palestinian group did bring in an Israelis refusnik and there was no muss or fuss by anyone

so if a pro peace Palestinian group wanted to bring Barak onto campus, would there still be the same silliness?

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15 Robert McClelland 10.05.04 at 4:25 PM

Cry me a river, Damien. You pricks started this.

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16 Kerrie Garre 09.17.11 at 1:19 AM

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