Where do I begin. This conflict is months in the making, and if you don’t go to York, you won’t understand it. So first a little background info.
York University, like most universities these days, is a hotbed of radical leftism (see Indoctrinate U for more on that topic). The union representing Teacher Assistants (TAs) and contract faculty at the school, CUPE district 3903, brought forth ridiculous contract demands and on November 3, 2008, went on strike, causing 50,000 students to be locked out of their classes. I am one of those students, but that’s besides the point. Don’t wanna get too off topic! Why is this relevant? Because during this labour dispute, which only ended 2 weeks ago, a few events occurred: 1.CUPE’s provincial president put forth a resolution to bar Israeli academics from teaching at Ontario universities; 2.The YFS (the student government) came out in support of the TAs during the strike (represented by CUPE), not in support of the 50,000 students who were held hostage; 3. The YFS passed a resolution unequivocally condemning the “Israeli atrocities in Gaza”.
Now, many students, from many different backgrounds, had many different questions. Why is the union making racist political claims? Why is the student government supporting the TAs, and not the students who they are supposed to be representing? Why is the student government passing resolutions that have to do with international politics, and have nothing to do with governing a University student body? And further, why are they passing this resolution during a strike, when they should be (and clearly aren’t) helping bring students back to classes!!!!
So these many students came together when classes resumed (due to binding arbitration I might add) and came up with a campaign called ‘Drop YFS’. It was a campaign to get 5000 signatures (10% of the student body) and force the YFS to resign and call an election. The campaign was very successful, and the target amount was reached.
And this brings us to our Press Conference. The ‘Drop YFS’ team was having a press conference yesterday to announce that they’ve received the 5000 signatures. Some people present were Jews, and some people present were not Jews. It was a mixed crowd. Why am I letting you know this? Because in the middle of the press conference, about 100 pro-Palestinian protesters showed up outside the room, chanting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic slurs.
Read the eyewitness account.
Some highlights from the account:
Also, just before the press conference started, a Middle Easter pro-Palestinian supporter shouted out loud right next to me, “Let the Colored people in.” To which an African Canadian student showed her disgust with this comment and stated to a friend of mine that maybe this pro-Palestinian supporter also wants to place them in the back corner as well. And, after this pro-Palestinian supporter made this comment he followed it up with, “Maybe if my friends bleach their skin they’ll be let inside.” This comment grew equal disgust as the first by the other students standing around him. […]
The Middle Eastern student who was shouting the racial slurs earlier stepped in front of where I was taking pictures/videos of what was occurring and when he realized what I was doing, and I believe it was only because I was wearing my Yarmulke (Jewish skull cap), he told me that if I take his picture, that he will take my camera and smash it. He only issued this threat to me and no other student so I believe I am fair to state that this threat to break my camera was only done so because I was Jewish and that I am therefore guilty due to association. […]
As the mob did not disperse, on the third floor, a worker in the Hillel [office] decided that it was best to lock the door of the Hillel, and only let the Jewish students inside until the crowd thinned out, just to be on the safe side. Not thinking that anything was going to happen, the students in the Hillel lounge went about there typical business, sitting around and doing school work. Ten minutes passed, and before anyone realized what was happening, the mob that was outside the press conference on the third floor was outside the Hillel office on the fourth floor. The students outside of the Hillel were shouting louder their anti-Israel slogans and banging on the floor and walls so hard that the lights outside the Hillel were flickering. As the students in Hillel began to grow uneasy and the feeling of being safe was diminishing, York security was called in to try and help break up the crowd but as any student who has been to York knows, the campus security is severely limited on the force that they can use and they were unable to break up the crowd. And, as a result we were encouraged by Hillel staff to call the Toronto Police to help disperse the crowd. Some students who had the local non-emergency number called that one but as panic was setting in with other students some called 911 as they were truly scared for their safety.
There is also a CTV News report on the incident.
I really don’t know what to make of all of this. The campus is becoming a hotbed of radical leftist and radical Islamist anti-Semitism. I just hope that everyone present at that press conference takes it to heart that Jewish or not Jewish, they also became victims. I hope the administration starts to crack down on this intimidation. But most of all, I hope that the Jewish students are not afraid. I have a very strong Jewish identity, and I know what I stand for and why I stand for it. Many Jews these days do not have this luxury, and are surely feeling very afraid and confused. The Jewish people need to stick together, and in such an atmosphere, it is crucial that those that know help those that don’t.
Today, there was a large pro-Israel peace rally at York in response to a planned anti-Israel rally happening at the same time. Probably thanks to yesterday, Jewish students showed up in swarms and it was very successful. I’m going to post some pictures later on tonight.
Welcome to the world of York University.