Following a firestorm of outrage and calls to resign from the student body for inciting violence after tweeting “PUNCH A ZIONIST TODAY”, a student leader at McGill offered an apology of sorts saying that that he is not an anti-Semite because he is of “Jewish heritage”.
Igor Sadikov, board member of the student society at McGill University and anti-Israel activist who advocates for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which was condemned by both the Canadian Parliament and the Ontario Legislature, wrote the following statement on Facebook:
I regret the way that I phrased my opposition to Zionism and the fact that some of my constituents and fellow students felt harmed by it. To be clear, this tweet was not an attack against Jewish students, but on the adherents of a political philosophy that has detrimental impacts on Palestinians on a daily basis. This is an ideology that I oppose, in the same way that I oppose colonization and dispossession in Canada, in the United States, and elsewhere in the world. Given my own Jewish heritage, I believe that we must continue to disentangle Jewish identity from Zionism. Finally, I do not condone nor advocate violence on the basis of membership in any identity group.
Sadikov deleted the original tweet, but not before it came to the attention of students and Jewish organizations.
Vote No McGill, an anti-BDS student group said that it is “appalling that an elected representative who holds significant power within the McGill community is advocating violence against Zionists, a significant portion of McGill students”, and called for his resignation from the board. B’nai Brith Canada called for Sadikov to be censured.
Vivian Bercovici, former Canadian ambassador to Israel, called Sadikov a “nasty piece of work” and a “coward” for deleting his original tweet.
Bercovici wrote on her Facebook page:
The student activist/hater McGill University student who tweeted recently, exhorting fellow haters to “punch a zionist today” continues to dig his hole. He tries to explain his incitement to violence as an expression of his distaste for Zionism. In other words, he opposes the existence of a Jewish state. But – he somehow understands this as being all about peace, love and anti-colonialism and not hatred or anti-semitism.
On the latter point, he invokes his own Jewish heritage. Shameless, disingenuous and downright disgusting. The fact that he is Jewish does not validate his uninformed and hate-filled views. The conspiracy theories espoused by Alice Walker are not more credible because she is American. This nasty piece of work, Mr. Sadikov, is a coward. He deleted the tweet that drew so much attention, and now says that he has not decided whether or not to resign from student government.
That someone so openly hate-filled and violent even has the option to continue screams out for a review of student governance policies. I’m also wondering……where is my Prime Minister Justin Trudeau? He – or one of his high profile Cabinet members – is usually quick to pounce on such disgraceful conduct and condemn it. Jews, Israelis and Zionists are living in a highly toxic environment. Why the silence from Ottawa? Why is this a non-event?
Ryan Bellerose, a Zionist Metis from northern Alberta and B’nai Brith Coordinator for Western Canada, offered to meet with Sadikov “to discuss all sorts of things… and if in the end you choose to carry on with your tough talk, im sure we can reach some sort of accommodation”. Bellerose’s invitation to meet with Sadikov lit up the social media. @AriFromKfarSaba tweeted: Anti-Zionist shill gets an epic smack down from proud #Zionist advocate”.