“The University of Toronto is allowing a pro-Palestinian conference to proceed this weekend after student organizers agreed participants do not have to agree with a mandatory list of beliefs such as the rejection of the right of Israel to exist and a refusal to condemn Palestinian suicide attacks.”
So much for hopes of a negotiated settlement.
So says the National Post. Thanks to Steve, who sent me an email message he received from conference organizers, the Al-Awda student group. It informed prospective conference-goers that “there is a political basis of unity for the conference which serve as political principles which all participants at the conference must respect in order to attend.
“The Basis of Unity is as follows:
1. We support the Palestinian right of return. It is non-negotiable.
2. It is becoming increasing clear that a two state solution is not a viable or acceptable option for the Palestinian people.
3. Israel is a racist apartheid state.
4. Our activism is imbued with an anti-colonial feminist practice.
5. We support the right of the Palestinian people to resist Israeli and colonialism by the means of their choosing. [I.e., suicide bombing]
6. Actions that we organize out of this conference will be developed under the framework of respecting a diversity of tactics.”
The Post says that “university officials called off the Toronto Palestinian Solidarity Conference a week ago after learning conference participants were required to sign a six-point Basis of Unity, also stating Israel is a racist apartheid state and calling for a non-negotiable acceptance of the Palestinian right of return.
“The university said the statements fall within the boundaries of free speech, but the Al-Awda student group contravened university policy protecting dissenting opinions by forcing conference participants to agree with its views.
“The clash led to a week of campus protests that saw one student arrested and a student newspaper closed.
“‘It’s scary,’ said Ashleigh Morton, president of the University of Toronto Students’ Administrative Council. The engineering student has spent much of this week mediating arguments between Jewish and Arab students.
“‘I am hoping everything will calm down. Students are capable of expressing strong opinions without resorting to violence.’
“Conference participants will still have to sign a copy of the Basis of Unity, but do not have to agree with the statements. The advisory, ‘Please be advised that the organizers of this conference subscribe to these principles and the event has been planned in the manner that subscribes to these principles,’ will appear next to the statement.
“Hazem Jamjoum, a 22-year-old University of Toronto student and member of the Arab Students’ Collective, is expecting Jewish protesters to attend the conference and is concerned for the safety of Arab students.
“‘People are going to come solely to provoke,’ he said.
“A spokeswoman for the Jewish student group Hillel said she had no plans to attend the weekend conference at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. ‘I respect their right to freedom of speech,’ said Johanna Herman, a fourth-year art history student.
“Another Jewish student, Ben Bach, who is on the university’s student council, said he respects the Al-Awda group’s right to freedom of speech but is concerned about increasing anti-Israel propaganda on campus.
“He is considering filing a human rights complaint against the Mississauga branch of the Students’ Administrative Council for posting a cartoon on its office wall depicting an Israeli soldier, with a grotesquely large nose, holding a smoking rifle and standing on top of a dead Palestinian man, talking to George W. Bush. Dollar bills and coins bulge out of his pockets.”
And this in Canada, where even your tone of voice can get you in hot water if you dare to speak about radical Islam.