FIRST READING: Canadian academia doubles down on pro-terror sentiments

A barrage of statements and events celebrating the Oct. 7 attacks has resulted in little to no consequences for students and faculty

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As Canadians first learned the details of the Oct. 7 civilian massacres in Israel, one of the more shocking domestic developments was that within large swaths of Canadian academia, the attacks weren’t just excused – but welcomed.

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A cross-section of tenured professors, faculty unions and student societies signed their names to public statements cheering the murder of more than 1,000 civilians as an act of “resistance” and – in some cases – calling for similar violence to be visited on the rest of the “settler colonial” world.

Three weeks later, even as university administrators try to tamp down the worst excesses of pro-terror sentiment within their schools, open calls for the destruction of Israel have only seemed to harden.

The York Federation of Students (YFS) — a group with a long history of supporting Palestinian extremism — nevertheless stood out with an Oct. 12 statement brazenly cheering the Oct. 7 massacres as a “strong act of resistance.”

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This prompted a rare reaction by York University, which promised to begin a process of deregistering the student group.

In response, the YFS and other co-signers to the letter have held firm, and are now framing themselves as the victims of “defamation.”

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Ontario’s minister of colleges and universities, Jill Dunlop, made a point of entering the names of the letter’s signers into the legislative record, saying they had endorsed Hamas and supported “rape, torture and mass murder.”

The University of Toronto Mississauga student union, whose leadership all put their names to the letter, claimed that Dunlop’s action was akin to “bullying” and “doxing.”

In the meantime, similar statements have sprung from academic institutions across the country.

More than 120 anthropology students and faculty from across all of Canada’s major universities have now signed their name to a statement framing Palestinian violence as a just reaction to Israeli “genocide” and “colonialism.”

“As anthropologists, we know that it is essential for scholars to situate the current war in its broad historical and social contexts, including those of settler colonialism,” it reads.

Queen’s University’s Department of Gender Studies continues to have a “solidarity” statement on its website that completely overlooks the Oct. 7 attacks, frames Israel as an illegitimate colony and claims it is colonialist to refer to Hamas as “terrorists.”

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“We condemn the erasure of trans and queer Palestinians as integral to their communities, along with the many ways powerful politicians and the media refer to all Palestinians as terrorists or dehumanize them through forms of animalization,” it reads.

Registered Queen’s student groups have struck a similar tone, with the school’s Palestinian Solidarity for Human Rights and others framing the Oct. 7 massacres as “decolonization and Indigenization” in action. “They are a rightful practice of Indigenous people across the world,” they wrote.

Queen’s Principal Patrick Deane has responded to all this only with a vague Oct. 30 statement decrying a rise of “antisemitism and Islamophobia” on campus.

Deane’s stance has prompted a letter signed by more than 200 Jewish alumni and 700 parents of Jewish students questioning why Queen’s was “conflicted in its position on something so absolute.

“Your silence on this matter speaks volumes and is very concerning to us parents.… Terror is not neutral. It must be stopped in its tracks,” they wrote.

On Oct. 22, students from Toronto Metropolitan University’s Lincoln Alexander School of Law released a particularly unequivocal statement of support for Palestinian violence against Israel. “We stand in solidarity with Palestine and support all forms of Palestinian resistance and efforts towards liberation,” it read.

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This letter prompted an uncharacteristic statement of condemnation from TMU administrators, who wrote “we unequivocally condemn the sentiments of Antisemitism and intolerance expressed in this message.”

But unlike York, they stopped short of pledging any consequences for what they deemed as an attempt to “promote or justify violence.”

This led a group of Toronto lawyers to decry TMU’s statement as a “weak” reply to what was effectively a group of would-be Canadian lawyers endorsing terrorism and war crimes.

The lawyers called for suspension or, at the very least, a public recantation as a condition of staying in the program.“ Anything less isn’t fulfilling the spirit of Lincoln Alexander,” they wrote, referencing the school’s namesake, a Progressive Conservative who was Canada’s first black MP.

TMU was also the site of an Oct. 26 Teach-In For Palestine whose promotional materials included the slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — an explicit call for Israel’s total eradication from the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Jewish group B’nai Brith Canada wrote in an Oct. 7 letter to TMU that the event, which included several faculty members, characterized Hamas terrorists as “freedom fighters” and lacked any condemnation of the Oct. 7 attacks.

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On Tuesday, students at the University of Toronto’s Department of Mathematics received an email inviting them to an “emergency” lecture on the subject of “decolonizing” mathematics. “In particular we’ll focus on Palestine and the idea of academic boycott,” read a description by Tarik Aougab, a professor at Pennsylvania’s Haverford College who would be delivering the lecture via Zoom.


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