Home Opinions Ideas Angst about how Jewish students are treated on campus

Angst about how Jewish students are treated on campus

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Pro-Palestinian mural hanging in York's student centre
A pro-Palestinian mural hanging in York's student centre PAUL LUNGEN PHOTO

How concerned should we be about the way Jewish students are treated on campus and their ability to be comfortable there while being outwardly Jewish?

Last year in particular, we were treated to a litany of concerns, with our emotions impacted greatly by stories suggesting that many, or perhaps most, Jewish students are uncomfortable as Jews on campus, a perception that was augmented by the saga of the now-famous pro-Palestinian mural in York University’s student centre. Indeed, in response to our anger and fears, significant dollars were invested by many who have responded to students concerns and fears.

But what is really taking place on campus? How can we know, beyond reading selective reports about specific situations that may or may not reflect the whole? There is no overall study that measures the comfort level of Jewish students on campus under different circumstances. Perhaps there should be. How comfortable are Jewish students being quietly Jewish, outwardly Jewish, or “activist” Jewish on our campuses? And where are the levels of comfort highest, or lowest?

READ: BRONFMAN PULLS SUPPORT FROM YORK OVER MURAL

With no study to point to, we are in the domain of the unknown, and that offers the opportunity to wonder and worry, to see catastrophe, and to focus our natural (and well-earned) paranoia as a people on our campuses as we respond to specific events and stories without the ability to moderate our feelings with facts.

Most of the Jewish media and organizational focus has been on student activism – on the anti-Israel militants who intrude on the student landscape masquerading as those who wish to do good in support of the Palestinians while conveniently ignoring the billions of downtrodden souls in the world who deserve – indeed require – their support far more than do the Palestinians, whose leaders continue to steal or squander the enormous sums of money foisted on them by a clueless international community.

As empty-headed as their reasoning is, there is a movement among students – with support from many TAs and some professors – that takes action from time to time through student governments via BDS resolutions and various days of Palestinian hero worship. This movement, while irritating, is actually not terribly effective, nor is it noticed by most people, except to the extent that our own organizations create a media circus out of what is being said or done.

READ: HOW BAD IS IT ON CAMPUS? DEPENDS WHOM YOU ASK

What’s of greater concern are the words and deeds of some professors who, under the guise of academic freedom and with the power of tenure (making it virtually impossible to fire them), use their pulpits irresponsibly, not to attack of Judaism as such, but to attack Israel.

Yet given the strong correlation between being Jewish and supporting Israel, these attacks put students who find themselves in the wrong classroom in a quandary, as objections to these professors’ negative messaging can lead to public put-downs, lower marks and various other forms of abuse that are not easily traced or attacked. Indeed, this problem is hardest to detect and most challenging to deal with.

In the absence of a definitive study – something I’m told is being considered, but which is fraught with challenges – the best information can be gleaned from people on the ground and in touch with the largest number of Jewish students on campuses. Hillel of Ontario, for instance, has professionals at most Ontario universities who interact with students daily, as do staff from other organizations such as Stand With Us and Hasbara Fellowships.

From staff and from students, we can come closest to the truth.


Michael Diamond will be moderating a panel discussion titled “Jewish life on campus: what is the real story?” at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. Panelists will include Marc Newburgh, CEO of Hillel Ontario; Sara Lefton, vice-president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs; as well as one knowledgeable Ryerson University student and one Hillel staff member.

  • TerrorIsEvil

    If you are an “A” or “B” grade student and start getting “C’s” or “D’s” from your professors who just happen to be avowed supporters of BDS, Israeli Apartheid Week on campus, or on the far Left and embracing terrorism and the Muslim Brotherhood on campus, stand your ground and make written complaints to the administration. Keep well documented notes on what takes place.

    Do the best work you can do and excel. That is the best antidote to creeps who pretend to be all about human rights, “peace,” and justice but are actually hiding their real agenda of hate for Jews under all that fluff meant to con the Canadian public.

    Now students have to face a Federal Party, the Green Party, which has been hijacked by the Left and wants to shift focus from the environment to destroying your environment and other people’s lives (including, by the way, the Muslims and all people who they will sacrifice in order to damage Jewish people and Israel).

    Do not buy into the ideas of people who say they want better lives for “Palestinians” because if they did then they would be putting pressure on the surrounding 22 Muslim states to make their lives better instead of pushing them towards terrorism and war against the Jewish people according to the Islamic books which are in bad need of thorough revision and change.

    • Pale Blue Dot

      If you are an “A” or “B” grade student [with no health problems] and start getting “C’s” or “D’s” then it very likely means you are slacking off.

      • TerrorIsEvil

        If the student’s low grade is an anomaly in one class only where his/her prof is a BDS monomaniac, then it is likely that that prof is retaliating against that student for being Jewish.

        • Pale Blue Dot

          And what if (a) a student supports BDS and a Jewish professor retaliates by “Cs” or “Ds” (b) a Jewish student supports BDS and a Jewish professor retaliates by “Cs” or “Ds”?

          • TerrorIsEvil

            This never happens and you are forgetting that there is an unequal power relationship between professor and student.

            BDS, by the way, is pure antisemitism. If a student were involved in the BDS then the concern ought to come from the administration to make sure that the student’s actions do not spill over into radicalization of other students for terror missions and violence at home or abroad.

            There is now a direct connection and link (and involvement) between extreme antisemitism as we see in the new Left as well as some Islamist groups on campus and terrorists worldwide.

  • Benwalid

    Conflating Israel with Judaism, when done by either supporters or opponents of Israel, is anti-Semitic since it falsely implies that all Jews are responsible for the policies and practices of Israel.

    Israel claims to be a democracy and as Canadians we expect its actions to conform with our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantees equal rights for all Canadians regardless of their ethnicity, race, religion or gender.

    The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign that was launched in 2005 by 170 Palestinian
    civil society groups calls for a boycott of Israel until Palestinians have equal rights in their homeland.

    Any Canadian who enjoys equal rights in Canada should support such a demand instead of feeling uncomfortable.

    • d gitalgravity

      The only people who are to blame for some of the Arabs nor receiving equal treatment are only Arabs themselves. Arabs who accept israel’s right to exist and want to live in peace do receive equal treatment.

      If you really believe in democracy then you should be fine with an equal opportunity for Israeli supporters to state it’s point of view, and put up a mural on the wall in York student center next to the one hanging there now. Showing, for example, how the Arabs (who claim to be Palestinian) execute other Arabs for selling their land to the Jews, or perhaps a mural shown an Arab stabbing a pregnant Israeli woman on the street, or maybe one where a Arab men murdering a woman for “dishonoring” her family, and not obeying the law of Islam?

      • TerrorIsEvil

        That York U poster is a stain on Canadian multiculturalism, human rights and freedom because it glorifies an Intifadah against one people – the Jews.

        The Jewish people must stop the Islamists or become victims to their Islamist supremacist rule – rule which has no place nor acceptance for others except for the most violent and radical Islamists among them (an ill-defined group also separated along religious and political lines but with a common literal reading of and need to carry out the dictates of the Koran).

      • Benwalid

        Israel exists and has been recognized by the Palestine Liberation Organization when the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. However, in a truly democratic state the majority does not have the right to legislate laws that discriminate against the minority, otherwise the majority Christians in Canada could legislate laws that discriminate against Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc.

        I am a Christian Palestinian refugee who was forced into exile in 1948 and who immigrated to Canada. As a naturalized citizen I now have the same rights as any other Canadian. However, I have not been allowed for 68 years to return to my hometown, Nazareth, because I am Christian.

        There are currently 70 laws (and the number keeps increasing with time) that discriminate against Israel’s 1.7 million Christian and Muslim citizens (who are descendants of those Palestinians who were not expelled in 1948) in land ownership, residence, education, political participation, employment, family reunification and municipal resources. I have relatives there who have been discriminated against for 68 years because they are not Jewish.

        Israel also has been occupying East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza for 49 years and denying 4.6 million Palestinians basic civil and human rights. In addition Israel refuses to allow 6 million refugees who were expelled in 1947-1949 to return to their homes and properties, because they are not Jewish, in violation of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

        BDS campaign calls for a boycott of Israel until Christian and Muslim Palestinians
        have equal rights in their homeland as I currently have in Canada, my adopted homeland.

        Asking Israel to abide by international law and grant equal rights to all its citizens – regardless of their religion, ethnicity or race – is in conformity with our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

        • TerrorIsEvil

          Funny, the last time I checked Israel was not occupying Gaza – Hamas, the terror organization had a stranglehold over that terror-tory. Truth sometimes matters when you are not in front of a class of ignoramuses trying to indoctrinate them into Jew hatred, Bewalid.

          BTW: Israel was given all the mandated British territory by the League of Nations and recognized as its owner both in ancient and modern times. Jordan was stripped away and then Arab countries invaded the West bank and held it until 1967 when all Arab countries attacked Israel and Israel captured what was once and forever theirs.

          Stop and think about it, Benwalid, Arabs have 22 countries and there are 56 Islamic countries (and growing) but Jews have one.

          Go make those 56 countries livable democracies for your Muslim people instead of longing to do terroristic religious and ethnic cleansing in Israel and in your own Apartheid Islamic states.

    • TerrorIsEvil

      Are you also calling for a boycott of Canada until you and all the population who are considered settlers by indigenous peoples are removed and sent to camps or killed (as the Arabs would do to Jews in Israel if given a chance)?

      Jews, by the way, are the indigenous people of Israel and beyond and although Leftists look upon successful indigenous people as unworthy of their support and sympathy, that does not diminish the fact.