Supporters rally behind McGill student rep who called for Zionists to be punched

McGill’s SSMU really needs to crack down on this kind of hate speech and encouragement of violence, and those who tolerate and accept it should be ashamed:

In this age of trigger warnings and micro-aggressions, a university campus is not where you would expect people to rally behind someone who called for physical violence.

But after McGill University student politician Igor Sadikov last week used Twitter to encourage people to “punch a Zionist,” supporters have defended him while targeting Jewish students who support Israel.

On Monday, the board of directors of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), on which Sadikov represents Arts students, rejected by a vote of 5-4 a motion calling for his removal from the board.

Students attending an SSMU legislative council meeting last Thursday reported that elected representatives declined to denounce Sadikov but stood by as a Jewish member of the council was singled out for her support of Zionism.



Jasmine Segal, who represents social work students on the council, said she came under attack for qualifying Sadikov’s tweet as hateful.

“Instead of dealing with this important and distasteful issue, supporters from the gallery for (Sadikov) turned the meeting to attack me and request that I be removed as a representative of SSMU due to my faith,” Segal wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday.

“I was left isolated and alone to respond. My fellow representatives sat in silence and permitted this malicious, prejudicial, and unjustified attack to continue.”

The McGill Daily, a student newspaper that has a policy of not publishing Zionist viewpoints, reported that a pro-Palestinian activist complained at the meeting about the presence of Zionists on council.

“Since SSMU has a social justice mandate, why does it allow Zionist councillors on council, when Zionist ideology is inherently (linked to) ethnically cleansing Palestinians?” the activist asked. Instead of addressing Sadikov’s tweet, the question period became a “heated debate over how exactly to define Zionism, and over who had experienced violence,” the newspaper reported.

Molly Harris, a third-year Arts student who attended the meeting, said she felt targeted as a Jew and a Zionist.

“This tweet and the discourse that followed on Thursday have unleashed a wave of condemnation of Zionists and Jews at McGill and have normalized inciting violence against students who identify as such,” she said by email. “If anything, I feel more unsafe and more singled out now than I did last week because of the campus groups who have used Sadikov’s tweet as an opportunity to express their anti-Zionist, and often anti-Semitic views.”

She criticized the SSMU for failing to act promptly against Sadikov. In a statement on Saturday, the SSMU executive said it condemns violence and apologized “if the abilities of any councillor were questioned on the basis of their personal identity” during Thursday’s council meeting.

“The SSMU recognizes that this is an emotional and contentious issue revolving around differing interpretations of historical and cultural contexts,” it said.

McGill’s administration said last week that its disciplinary procedures are confidential but it is “taking action as required” with respect to Sadikov’s tweet. In a statement Monday addressed to “the McGill community” and sent to alumni, Suzanne Fortier, the principal, said she was “shocked” by the offensive tweet. She said McGill “condemns all expressions of hatred and attempts to incite violence,” but she said the administration does not have the power to intervene in the internal affairs of the SSMU.

Sadikov did not respond to messages seeking comment. On Friday, he wrote on Facebook that he had recently been reminded of tweets he wrote between 2009 and 2012, before he entered university. They contained “violent slurs and discriminatory remarks targeting racialized people, women, queer people, people with disabilities, and people with mental illness,” he wrote. He said he no longer holds those biases and regrets having written the tweets, which have now been deleted along with the rest of his Twitter account.

Source: Supporters rally behind McGill student rep who called for Zionists to be punched | National Post

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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