Campus repression of free speech on Palestine
“Sh*t Students CAN’T Say (About Israel)”
by the Seriously Free Speech Committee View Video Clip References
Campus Chill updates
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UBC SJC/SPHR CAMPAIGN
SFSC letter Dec 1, 2010: To UBC Alma Mater Society, re: Social Justice Centre and Canadian Boat to Gaza
Gaza controversy a result of lackluster leadership, ubyssey.ca, Dec 8, 2010
The AMS: spending your money to investigate terrorism, ubyssey.ca, Dec 6, 2010
UBC student government checking Gaza donation for terror ties, nationalpost.ca, Dec 2, 2010
Standing morality on its head, nationalpost.ca, Nov 27, 2010
Other CAMPUS Updates
SFSC News release Nov 10, 2010: Coalition to push governments, universities to adopt definition of anti-Semitism that outlaws criticism of Israel
Canada schools blasted for ban on anti-Israel ‘apartheid’ poster, Haaretz, Feb 26, 2009
Poster Protest, ‘A’ News, Feb 26, 2009
Protesters march over poster ban at Carleton, cbc.ca, Feb 26, 2009
University of Ottawa Bans Israeli Apartheid Week Poster – Call to Action, SPHR U Ottawa, Feb 21, 2009
IJV Protest of Carleton University’s harassment of student organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week, Canpalnet Ottawa, Feb 20, 2009
Political stance has Carleton students fearing expulsion, Ottawa Sun, Feb 18, 2009
Academic Freedom Threatened in Ontario Universities, The Bullet, Feb 18, 2008
Carleton University Administration violates free expression– Bans and confiscates Israeli Apartheid Week posters, Students Against Israeli Apartheid, February 18, 2009
SFSC letter Dec 1, 2010
Letter to Mr. Bijan Ahmadian, UBC AMS President and AMS Councilors, re: Social Justice Centre and the Canadian Boat to Gaza
I am writing on behalf of the Seriously Free Speech Committee. We have recently become aware of the attacks and defamatory comments made by students associated with the Hillel Centre, and the Hillel Centre itself, about the Social Justice Centre and the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights Committee regarding their donation to the Canadian Boat to Gaza as part of the next freedom flotilla.
The Seriously Free Speech Committee was formed 2 ½ years ago to defend three individuals who published a parody of the Vancouver Sun and its uncritical support for Israel’s illegal siege of Gaza. We have since been forced to recognize that individuals who support justice in the Middle East or who engage in critical debate on Israel/Palestine are subject to the most horrendous personal slanders and organizational attacks. We have therefor expanded our mandate to support and defend those individuals and organizations.
What the AMS is experiencing has happened on many campuses across Canada and the US. In some cases it has cost principled academics their teaching positions and students their academic year. The attacks slander the individuals but in no instance do they actually deal with the actual living circumstances of Israel’s siege. Every opponent is labelled “antisemitic”, “a self-hating Jew” or “delegitimizer of Israel”. The intention of these slanders is to force critics to defend themselves rather than to force the supporters of Israel to answer legitimate questions about Israel’s actual actions. The Hillel Centre letter and other actions consist of so many mendacious comments and fabrications that it would take an extended letter to fully deal with them.
Briefly the siege of Gaza is illegal, the freedom flotilla boats are acting within international law and a war against a small country under siege and without weapons is not a war but a massacre. Justice Goldstone has written a balanced report on the Gaza massacre which has earned him the vindictive slander of ”evil, evil man” by Israeli supporters.
On George Galloway, Justice Mosely of the Canadian Federal Court in a September decision completely vindicated George Galloway and allowed him to enter Canada. Part of his decision is relevant to your decision:”To suggest, however, that contributions to Hamas for such purposes [food, medical care] makes the donor a party to any terrorist crimes committed by the organization goes beyond the parliamentary intent and the legislative language. The purpose to which the funds are donated must be to enhance the ability of the organization to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity. Absent such a purpose, the mere assertion that material support was provided to such an organization is not sufficient. To hold otherwise could ensnare innocent Canadians who make donations to organizations they believe, in good faith, to be engaged in humanitarian works.” Clearly the Canadian Boat to Gaza is carrying humanitarian relief for besieged Gazans, and not to Hamas, and cannot be tarred with the accusation of providing aid to the elected government of Gaza, Hamas.
Finally reference has been made to the Ottawa Protocol emerging from the Ottawa Conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition Combating Antisemitism. There is a significant literature criticizing this conference and its predecessors (including the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism) for attempting to conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism. There is demonstrable evidence that traditional antisemitism, hostility to Jews as Jews, is a marginal phenomenon in Canada and on Canadian campuses. What is increasing is criticism of Israel’s actions. However, these conferences choose to examine antisemitism instead of the more prevailing racism directed against First Nations, Muslims, blacks and many others.
Speaking of transparency, no one knows who attended the conference and how the $450,000 government grant was spent. We do know the participants were not representing their governments, were volunteers and many of them were part of a small group of academics and parliamentarians who go from one conference and workshop to the next trying to make criticism of Israel or support for the besieged Gazans illegal.
In summary, the attacks on SJC and SPHR are part of broad campaign to undermine those opposed to Israel’s actions. If the AMS wants to more fully understand the issues raised by the supporters of Israel, it could organize an forum to allow all sides to be heard. The SFSC would be happy to participate or support such a venture.
Co-Chair, Seriously Free Speech Committee
Carleton University Administration violates free expression – Bans and confiscates Israeli Apartheid Week posters, Students Against Israeli Apartheid
February 18, 2009
On February 8, Students Against Israeli Apartheid at Carleton University put up 100 posters for “Israeli Apartheid Week”, a series of lectures and public events that will occur on campuses in over 40 cities around the world. On February 9, these posters were taken down at the request of Carleton’s Equity Services, under the rationale that the posters “could be seen to incite others to infringe rights protected in the Ontario Human Rights code” and are “insensitive to the norms of civil discourse in a free and democratic society”
The poster was created by noted cartoonist Carlos Latuff and depicts a situation – a child being killed by aerial bombardment – that occurred over 430 times in Israel’s latest attack on Gaza according to United Nations reports. We encourage everyone to view the poster: http://www.apartheidweek.org/sites/apartheidweek.org/files/Israeli%20Apartheid%20Week%202009%20poster.jpg. Since it depicts a situation that has a factual basis and its intention is clearly to invite people to a lecture series, the notion that it is an incitement or a violation to norms of civil discourse is preposterous.
This is part of a wider pattern of repression of academic freedom and rights to free expression, especially on Israel/Palestine, on Canadian campuses, including Carleton University. It is accompanied by double standards. When 56 Carleton professors asked President Roseanne Runte to condemn Israel’s bombardment of the Islamic University of Gaza, the President refused. Neither the direct killing of hundreds of children nor the direct bombing of a campus are enough to elicit condemnation, but her administration has decided that a poster inviting people to discuss the conflict ought to be banned. Instead of being lauded by their university, students affirming the humanity of all peoples and the universality of international law have been threatened by Carleton University’s Provost with expulsion.
The Carleton administration had already taken a biased political stand on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and is now violating free expression to prevent alternative views. Both the current and former Carleton Presidents have taken very clear positions on the Israel-Palestine conflict by condemning the academic boycott of Israel out of hand, offering no alternative to this justice-oriented civil-society initiative. Students and faculty at Carleton have requested that the administration hold a public debate on the issue, to allow the Carleton community to determine the most responsible course of action, yet have been repeatedly rebuffed.
Far from defending human rights, the Carleton administration is treating them with contempt. In a memo to students on February 12, the Provost wrote that “all reported incidents of racial or religious intolerance will be investigated vigorously and addressed regardless of the persons or groups involved.” The administration should begin a vigorous investigation of its own behaviour, including its discrimination against students who seek an open debate on a political issue but are being silenced because they happen to disagree with the president’s stand.
That Carleton’s administration is using human rights grounds to violate free expression on its campus is a double insult. Internationally, the movement against Israeli apartheid has been endorsed by hundreds of universities, unions, religious groups and social justice organizations. This campaign is proudly anti-racist, and founded on the principles of opposition to all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. It draws its inspiration from the global campaign to end South African apartheid and is led by many of the same individuals who were at the forefront of that earlier struggle. By contrast, the administration that banned the poster could not summon enough concern for human rights or the right to education to speak against the bombing of a Gazan university.
- SAIA Carleton demands that the Carleton University administration:*
1. Immediately lift the ban on the Israeli Apartheid Week poster and publicly apologize for the banning. 2. Explain, publicly and precisely, how the profound error of banning the poster was made and address how to prevent such violations from occurring in future.
3. Sponsor a full public debate– ensuring generous access to the entire university community– on Carleton’s position on the proposed institutional boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
4. Appoint a university/community Commission to investigate the record of the University in relation to democratic discourse and equity around issues of Palestine solidarity.
This attempt to repress free expression will ultimately fail. The Carleton University administration should understand that debates on campuses on some of the most important human rights questions of our times cannot be silenced by administrative rulings.
We call on student organizations, social justice groups and concerned individuals around the world to support students at Carleton and the broader fight for freedom of expression.
- Please take the following actions:*
- Immediately email the Carleton University President, Roseanne Runte, at firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> demanding that she immediately restore the Charter rights of Carleton students and send a copy of your message of support to Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA Carleton) at firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>
- Call or fax Carleton University President, Roseanne Runte, at 613 520-3801(phone) or 613 520-4474 (fax) demanding that she immediately restore the Charter rights of Carleton students.