Brawl breaks out during pro-Israel event at Toronto university
York University students are calling upon administration today for better security after a violent clash broke out on campus between activists representing both sides of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The fight took place ahead of a Herut Canada-hosted event on York's main campus in which veterans of the Israeli Defence Forces spoke to students about their experiences in the army and denounced anti-Semitism.
Upon learning of the event, members of a group called Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) organized a protest against it.
BREAKING - Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University assaulted Jewish students attending a pro-Israel event at York University in Toronto. pic.twitter.com/leIz6foCep— BDS Report (@BDSreport) November 21, 2019
"All out!" reads a poster spotted at the school earlier this week. "No Israeli soldiers on our campus!"
B’nai Brith Canada, which bills itself as "the grassroots voice of the Jewish Community," shared a photo of the SAIA poster on its Facebook page, writing that "unless violating the law or university policy, everyone has a right to be present and be safe on campus."
That includes Jews, Israelis and yes, Israelis who have completed their mandatory military service," wrote the advocacy group.
Join us tomorrow in protesting @yorkuniversity’s shameful decision to allow IDF soldiers on our campus! War criminals responsible for the continual dispossession of Palestinian land & violations of Palestinian rights shouldn’t be anywhere near our place of education. #YorkU pic.twitter.com/icX5fQVgje— SAIA York (@SaiaYork) November 19, 2019
In an attempt to moderate any drama and keep all students safe, Toronto Police Service officers were present on campus during the event.
Still, many attendees were met with resistance upon entering and exiting the building, with some Jewish students reporting that they were escorted to their cars by police following the event.
Some on Twitter claim that the SAIA protesters were spewing hateful rhetoric. Video footage shows them chanting "Viva, Viva, Palestina," "Free, free, Palestine" and "1,2,3,4, Occupation no more!"
Regardless of where they fall on the political or religious spectrum, members of the community are saddened and disturbed by what happened at York University last night.
"Toronto, 2019, where Jews attending a talk at a supposed institute of higher education requires a police escort to get back to their cars. Happy with yourselves York University?" wrote attendee
Aboud Dandachi in a widely-shared Twitter thread.
"I, the former Syrian refugee, am telling you point blank there is something rotten at York University," Dandachi continued.
"The hatred I saw today for the Jewish visitors to York could have been in fucking Gaza or Ramallah."
Worth reading. And I don't imagine it's just York that has hate groups. But it's ok because it's the fashionable kind of hate against the cause du jour.— Miranda Veracruz de la Hoya Cardinal (@RW_Crank) November 21, 2019
In an ideal world, shouldn't universities be the *last* place you'd expect to find hate groups? https://t.co/1ONE1uH7nV
Some are now calling upon both university administrators and government officials to investigate the prevalence of anti-Semitism at York and other Toronto universities.
"When a Muslim Syrian refugee says Canadian universities are hotbeds of violent anti-Jewish hate, Justin Trudeau might want to listen," wrote one observer.
"Dear @JohnTory, @fordnation, @JustinTrudeau, there is a serious AntiSemitism problem at Toronto universities," wrote another.
"These campuses are allowing violent hate mobs to target their Jewish students. This situation will not end well."
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