Anti-Israel activists covered up an Israeli flag with an Algerian flag in order to eliminate all traces of Israel from a multicultural festival at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) in Oshawa, Ontario, B’nai Brith Canada wrote in a statement.
A Facebook screenshot obtained by B’nai Brith, which has since been deleted, shows members of the UOIT chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) “celebrating” their act of cultural vandalism by referring to Israeli Jews as “rodents” and telling a Jewish student to “go back to Palestine” after the student condemned their actions.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, since its founding in 2001, SJP, which has active chapters on many US and Canadian campuses, has consistently demonized Israel, described Israeli policies toward the Palestinians as “racist” and “apartheid-like”, and compared Israelis to Nazis.
SJP focuses almost exclusively on anti-Israel campaigns, including the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. In two separate motions, BDS was rejected by both the Canadian Parliament and the Ontario Legislature on the basis that it promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel and encourages hatred, hostility, racism and intolerance.
In March 2016, the Student Association at UOIT banned Hasbara Fellowships Canada, a grassroots Jewish campus advocacy organization, from tabling its Israel Peace Week materials during campus Social Justice Week, which included a 5 hour “Oshawa Against Israeli Apartheid” event and an “art show” organized by SJP which “illustrated what is being done to combat the illegal occupation of Palestine”. The reason given to Hasbara for the ban is the Jewish group’s “close ties” with the State of Israel.
Even though UOIT immediately announced that it does not support BDS, Hasbara went ahead and filed an official complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against UOIT’s Student and Faculty Associations. It was the first time a Jewish student group has filed such a complaint. The matter is currently being reviewed by the Tribunal.
In a statement, B’nai Brith’s CEO Michael Mostyn said that the flag incident is part of an ongoing campaign to eliminate Israeli and Jewish students from public life on campus.
“We’ve seen this pattern before, at campuses like York and Ryerson” Mostyn wrote. “Once anti-Israel fanatics have pushed their agendas through student government, their next step is to marginalize and harass Jewish students. SJP isn’t just a student club – it’s a group that promotes hatred, and university administrators need to start treating it as such.”
According to a list compiled by Canary Mission, an online database which tracks individuals and groups which promote hatred of Israel and the Jewish people, SJP activists intimidate and verbally assault Jewish students and routinely disrupt pro-Israel speakers. There have also been several documented instances of physical violence against Jews, including one at Temple University where a Jewish student was punched in the face by an SPJ member.
Ilana Shneider is the co-editor of CIJnews and the founding executive director of Canada-Israel Friendship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mutually beneficial, long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel. She can be reached at [email protected]