Anti-Israel BDS resolutions have been seizing campuses in Canada. According to an article in the Jerusalem Post, it is Hamas — an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood — that has fueled and directed the BDS and Israel Apartheid Week campaigns on university campuses across North America, through chapters of the Muslim Student Association and the Palestine Solidarity Network. Yet these menacing campaign drives are being minimized, passed off at best as a difference of opinion, and at worst, as social justice campaigns to protect Palestinians from the so-called brutalities imposed by an apartheid state.
A recent Brandeis University study on anti-Semitism singled out Canadian and Californian universities as locales where hostility toward Jewish students was especially high.
In Spring 2014, several hundred Ryerson University students voted “overwhelmingly in favour” of supporting BDS. Then three months ago, what was described as “a hate-filled anti-semitic message full of vile language” was found scrawled in the men’s bathroom at Ryerson. It referenced the “stealing of Palestinian land” and called for Israel, Jews and supporters of the state of Israel to “burn in hell.” In April, the president of the organization called Ryerson’s Students Supporting Israel said she was spat upon while holding an Israeli flag as she filmed a school project on campus, prompting investigations by Toronto police and the university’s Investigations and Crime Prevention Office.
Referring to the graffiti, Ryerson President Sheldon Levy stated:
We are shocked and saddened….Graffiti of this nature is absolutely unacceptable at Ryerson and has no place on our campus or anywhere else. We are committed to providing a civil and safe environment which is free of discrimination, harassment, and hate, and is respectful of the rights, responsibilities, well-being and dignity of all its members.
Despite the rebuke to such blatant anti-Semitism, there still lurks a more subtle and dangerous new anti-semitism that is paraded as dissent in political opinion, but that aims to delegitimize the state of Israel.
I had the unfortunate firsthand experience of a display of this phenomenon — albeit a seemingly mild version — during a speech I gave before an adult part-time class at Ryerson University on November 9. Also speaking was the executive director of a Christian Zionist organization. The professor who invited us did a stellar job at keeping balance and poise in the midst of unreasonable “student” attacks against the state of Israel, and some aimed at me personally.
The experience I will recount is one that is far too often justified by reference to the Palestinian plight, and is also minimized by those who undermine the peril of this subtle form of new antisemitism.
My speech encompassed the justification of support for Israel beyond “the Bible said so,” with references to the two-state solution delineated long ago by the League of Nations, to which Arab states still took offense, as they rejected Israel’s very existence — despite the British partition plan favoring the Arabs – and thus attacked the Jewish State it upon its birth in 1948. My co-speaker was her usual charming self as she discussed the fine work of her Christian Zionist organization. Then came my segment, which was more about the blend and crossover between religion and politics with regards to Israel.
It was stunning to witness the spectacle of a significant number of audience members virulently against the state of Israel with no justification, rhyme or reason, and most critically, no apparent recognition of why Israel needs to defend itself from obliteration. When challenged to explain their positions, they could offer no explanation for their views beyond “you’re passionate, you’re religious….you’re one-sided,” or “I find it hard to listen to a one-sided approach.” The obsession with the “occupied territories,” “the fence,” “the expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem,” and the “poverty of Palestinians is because of Israel” was obscene in the face of Israel’s struggle to exist, not to mention the deadly Hamas, PA and Fatah Charters seeking Israel’s obliteration; the persecution of Christians in Bethlehem; the stabbings in Jerusalem; the rocket attacks; the Muslim women and children human shields used by Hamas; and so on. One woman talked with disdain about her “evangelical brother,” whom she found to be ignorant and bigoted, as she implicitly accused me of being an ignorant evangelical who blindly supported what she portrayed as the criminal state of Israel, but gave no evidence when asked to explain and elaborate upon her thoughts.
She and her fellow Israel-haters didn’t even care that Abbas announced that there would not be one Jew in a Palestinian state (a demonstration of pure hatred and apartheid), or that Abbas did his PhD in Holocaust denial. It was as though these folks were deaf, dumb and blind to history and the current realities of Israel’s existential threat as well as the grave sufferings being endured by the persecuted Church in Islamic states and in Bethlehem, from which Christians have been driven out.
Given plenty of opportunity and encouragement to address exactly what in the points I had made that the “students” thought was flawed, they had no answer or even any desire to examine the issues fairly in search of truth, but instead persisted with a brazen display of raw anti-Semitism disguised as caring about the Palestinians. Not even one question was posed during the speech (or Question and Answer period) about to where the 31 billion dollars of aid that the West gave to the Palestinian Authority vanished. I will answer now: much went to funding terrorism, for starters, which included reward blood money to terrorists who successfully murdered innocent Israelis.
When the bright Ryerson Professor posed a question to an attendee about whether it would really make any significant difference if Israel stopped its expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem, the answer was that at least people would not be as upset. The ludicrousness of this answer was perplexing.
I was surprised at the end of my presentation by a surprising nice round of applause, as well as by the sudden appearance of many in support of Israel that I wished had spoken up more.
What nation on the face of the earth faces obliteration by Islamic regimes, on top of unjustified and venomous attacks from Western critics who enjoy their safety at home — and in Israel, were it not for jihadists — and who would be murdered if they even so much as openly expressed their views about freedom of religion or rights for women and gays in the despotic territories surrounding Israel? A question to contemplate: Israel has habitually tried to make friends out of its foes; has it worked?
I posted this first-hand experience on Facebook, and one of the comments by an Israeli Defense and security specialist displayed some insights into raw truth:
Don’t we know this? We did warn the world about ISIS. We did warn the world about aviation and airport security. We did warn the world about border security. Did anyone listen? Of course not!!!!
Four decades ago, the renowned professor Bernard Lewis wrote that an “ominous phrase” was heard immediately preceding the Six-Day War in 1967: “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.’” In an era of rising jihadist infiltration into Western civilization, let’s hope that leaders and campus authorities can begin deciphering the meaning and profundity of such a statement in the face of stark and mounting evidence.
Christine Williams is an award winning Canadian journalist and public relations consultant. She is also an appointee of the Canadian government.