“Peaceful protest” at Concordia

10.05.04

The Gazette reports that today’s Hillel rally outside Concordia was “peaceful”:

Almost two years after a violent demonstration outside Montreal’s Concordia University against former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there was another protest.

Only this time, it was more vocal than violent.

About two hundred people staged a peaceful demonstration outside the university’s downtown campus Tuesday.

They were protesting the administration’s decision not to allow a speech by another former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak.

I’m sure we’ll be seeing lots more on the 6 o’ clock news. This story was just a placeholder. But even in its brevity, it says a lot.

Hillel holds peaceful protests. The right to free speech in Canada incorporates – and in fact, depends on – the right to peaceful protest.

But when the line is crossed into violence, protest becomes thuggery. That’s what happened when Netanyahu came to speak.

And now, Barak is denied his right to speak because of the fear of a repeat of the violence of the 2002 Netanyahu riots. SPHR has succeeded in shutting down any speech it doesn’t like at Concordia, through the use of violence.

But when speakers came who Hillel disagreed with, they protested peacefully. So speakers continue to come who Hillel disagrees with.

In other words, the viewpoint that the violent thugs agree with gets to be heard. But the viewpoint that the peaceful demonstrators agree with gets shut down.

Concordia is sending a strong message here: violence works. Who will be the next groups to employ SPHR’s tactics to muzzle speech they don’t like?

That’s why this isn’t just an issue for pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian students. It’s not just an issue for Concordia students. It’s an issue for all Montrealers, all Canadians, and all people committed to democracy. We cannot let violence win.

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