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But I obviously have problems with it. The full text is here.

First he complains for 9 paragraphs about how hard it is to be the President of the University during the economic downturn that the world is facing and in the post-strike cleanup, as if we’re supposed to feel sympathetic (keep in mind this guy apparently makes $450,000+ and it is his job to deal with these issues). Is it our fault the administration allowed a culture of extreme leftism to pervade their workers’ union? Do we not also feel the burn of the recession?

Then he finally cuts to the chase:

But at a time when our community should be pulling together, we turn on each other instead — academic disruption, intimidation, sit-ins, name-calling, shouting people down, banging on the doors and windows of Senate or the Board of Governors or student clubs. Then we run to the media and tell anyone who will listen how bad York is. [ed: guilty, as charged]

Is it any wonder our own students are disconnected? Or that turnout at our student elections is so low? Or that our students and their families are voting with their feet? Our public face is not demonstrating the core values a university should stand for:

  • Freedom of speech – especially for those with whom we disagree
  • Mutual Respect
  • Reason
  • Discourse
  • Objectivity
  • Being able to teach — and learn — without disruption
  • Being open to other ideas and other people.
  • And yes, social justice.

But we cannot demand social justice only for ourselves and for those who think like us. Social justice is for everyone, or it is for no one. York has a history of social activism, but the events of the past weeks — intimidation and shouting each other down — have nothing to do with social activism.

That is why I am asking you today, as Senators and key representatives of the academy, to make your voices heard and say, “enough is enough.”

I want to give a couple of examples of how the academy can contribute to open dialogue on tough issues. At other universities in this province, faculty members participate as guest speakers at lecture series organized by student clubs. These events tackle the very same issues we are struggling with:

  • Islamophobia
  • Anti-Semitism
  • Racial profiling
  • Overcoming stereotypes

The goal is not agreement or endorsement of each others’ ideas, it is to create safe spaces where people can come together to articulate their views — without fear and without being shouted down.

I’ll give you another example happening right here at York. Next week, the York Centre for International and Security Studies is hosting an event that will examine the idea of academic boycotts. Speakers will explore the topic in a reasoned way in an academic forum. These two examples share one common element: faculty involvement.

First, I want to give him credit for listing all the disgusting things that Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) have done in that first list. There has been no intimidation, sit-ins, or  banging on the doors and windows of Senate or the Board of Governors or student clubs on the part of the Jewish students, so that is clearly directed towards them.

However, he completely spoils it later. Notice how Islamophobia is listed first in the list of issues to tackle. When a Muslim student from a predominantly Muslim student group threatens another non-Muslim student, is it Islamophobia to be afraid of that student and other members of their group? Give me a break.

And about this event that willexamine the idea of academic boycotts …  in a reasoned way in an academic forum.” Reasoned and academic forum? Who is he trying to kid! We all know that this event is going to turn into a gigantic Israel bashing party. The event is part of the problem, not the solution. By endorsing such an event, you are now completely legitimizing the comparison between Israeli self-defence, and South African Apartheid.

Take a look at the posted agenda. The only speaker they even have listed is Omar Barghouti, described as “founding member of the Palestinian civil society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign as well as a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).” I’m not saying that people who disagree with me should be silenced – by all means, run the event. But to claim that this is going to help the situation is just completely delusional.

I could rant a lot longer on the problems with his statement, but I’ll spare you the rhetoric. The next few weeks at York are going to be very interesting to say the least. Shoukri sure has his work cut out for him. But then again, so do we as Jewish students. I’m up to the task.

Stay tuned.

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6 Responses to “York President Shoukri releases long overdue public statement”

  1. john smith says:

    “We all know that this event is going to turn into a gigantic Israel bashing party. The event is part of the problem, not the solution. ”
    …perhaps disregarding this event before it even takes part is a sign that you’re being a bit too closed minded about the situation. if you want things to change you have to be willing to give both sides a voice.

  2. mghirsch says:

    Mikecg said:

    First, I want to give him credit for listing all the disgusting things that Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) have done in that first list. There has been no intimidation, sit-ins, or banging on the doors and windows of Senate or the Board of Governors or student clubs on the part of the Jewish students, so that is clearly directed towards them.

    Unfortunately, the way he said it infers that all parties did those disgusting things, thereby painting the Jewish student with the same brush as SAIA.

  3. john smith says:

    mghirsch: i fail to see the relevance of your post. please expand.

  4. mghirsch says:

    The significance is this: By using a blanket statement about academic disruption, intimidation, etc, without saying that the SAIA was the group that did those things, it gives the impression that ALL the groups, including the Jewish students, did them, thereby casting aspersions on the Jewish students that they do not deserve, and makes them appear to be on the same level as SAIA.

  5. Greetings to all, This webpage is good quality and so is the manner in which the issue was developped. I like some of the comments too though I would prefer we remain on the topic so that to add value to the point. It will be also encouraging to the one who penned it down if we all could mention it (for those who use social media such as a delicious, twitter,..). Thanks again.

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