Sunday, December 1, 2019

York University: Campus Anti-Zionism Seen Through the Eyes of a Syrian Refugee - By Aboud Dandachi

I was about to find out that Canadian students at a top school like York University could hold protests just as serious and menacing as those I had seen in the Middle East

Aboud Dandachi..
Tablet Magazine..
25 November '19..

A refugee from a war-torn country is used to seeing all parts of their homeland become a battleground. Streets. Apartments. Football fields. Even the historic Krak de Chaveliers castle near my native Homs in Syria was fought over by opposing sides in the Syrian civil war. After landing in Canada, however, I hadn’t expected my new country’s universities to be arenas for ideological mobs to shout down and denounce their opponents.

When I made my way up to York University this month on the evening of the 20th, I was blissfully unaware of the university’s status as a hotbed of “anti-Zionist” activism.” I had only arrived in Canada in two years ago through the Refugee Resettlement Program and, still eager to explore, was taking my first trip up to York. I planned to attend an event being held by Herut Canada, who were hosting five members of the Israeli NGO “Reservists on Duty” an organization of Israeli military veterans who travel the world and hold talks and events to “counter the BDS movement and new forms of anti-Semitism erupting on US college campuses.”

I was looking forward to meeting with the Israeli veterans. Such meetings were frowned upon back in Syria—as in, land one in jail kind of frowned upon. Canada was the one truly safe place I had ever lived where a Syrian might meet Israelis without suffering any consequences.

Poor, naïve me.

As I soon learned, York University in Toronto has for some time earned its reputation as a place that is hostile to people holding Zionist and pro-Israeli political standings. A mural currently exhibited at the York University Student Centre garnered headlines for its depiction of a Palestinian with his back turned, face covered in a kafiya, a map of “Palestine” completely erasing Israel, clutching two rocks behind his back while gazing at a construction site. One does not have to be Jewish or Israeli to consider it a menacing piece.

Such sentiments may not be unique to York. Earlier in the week at another of the city’s major academic institutions, the University of Toronto, an official in the Graduate Student Union rejected a request from Hillel to support bringing more kosher food onto the campus, on the grounds that it would be taken as pro-Israel and might run contrary to the “will of the membership,” who had voted to support the BDS movement against Israel.

Back at York, in October Lauren Isaacs, a student at the school and director of the Toronto chapter of Herut Canada, an organization that describes itself as “a Zionist movement dedicated to social justice, the unity of the Jewish people and the territorial integrity of the Land of Israel”, set up an exhibition at York with a sign saying “I’m a Zionist, ask me why.” The reaction from some students was pure, unadulterated rage. Lauren has described on her Facebook page how she was insulted, spat on, called a Zionist-Nazi.

When I arrived at the campus Wednesday night, York’s Vari Hall appeared like what I imagined any Canadian faculty building to look like, with students lounging about with their laptops and headsets. Someone was dancing quite expertly to the sounds of a stereo player.

I decided, with time to kill before listening to speakers that the Syrian Mukhabarat would have had my neck just for meeting, that I would explore the student cafeteria. My refined Middle Eastern palate was unimpressed by the offerings available to the unfortunate York students at the cafeteria, although I did find the diversity of the student body quite impressive.

That was the last moment I would have any positive feelings toward York University.

(Continue to Full Article)

Updates throughout the day at If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook which has additional pieces of interest besides that which is posted on the blog. Also check-out This Ongoing War by Frimet and Arnold Roth. An excellent blog, very important work. 

No comments:

Post a Comment