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Paul Myerson refutes positions of pro-IAW student in the Manitoban.


Hart Jacob, Director of Jewish Campus life


David Matas, Senior honourary counsel for B'nai Brith

 
STUDENTS AGAINST ISRAELI APARTHEID HAS BECOME OFFICIAL NEW GROUP ON U OF M CAMPUS

GROUP INTENDS TO BRING ISRAEL APARTHEID WEEK TO UNIVERSITY OF WINNIPEG,AND RECRUIT MEMbERS AT U OF W

by Rhonda Spivak, January 19, 2010

           A new official student group on campus entitled Students Against Israeli Apartheid has recently been formed on the University of Manitoba and the group is looking to expand to the University of Winnipeg. The new group is set on bringing Israel Apartheid Week to the University of Winnipeg for the first time ever this year. 

              Jewish Students became aware of the existence of this new group as the result of an article written by student Brian Letour several months ago in the University of Manitoba’s newspaper the Manitoban. In the article, Letour who was one of the organizers of Israel Apartheid Week [ IAW] which took place for the first time on University of Manitoba campus last year wrote about his trip to Israel and the West Bank   as part of a solidarity tour run by Independent Jewish Voices this past summer . In his article,  Letour wrote:

Simply put, what I saw was apartheid as defined in international law . The word “occupation” simply doesn’t do the situation justice, given the racism and the various legal means with which to oppress the Arab population in what is known as “Israel proper” as well as the denial of the right to return home from Palestinian refugee camps. It’s no wonder that apologists for the Israeli state get upset when the term “Israeli apartheid” is used — it is not only a powerful term, but it is an accurate description of the realities in Israel and Palestine.

The article written by Letour indicated that he was a member of “ Students Against Israeli Apartheid at U of M.” To read Letour’s article in full, go to http://www.themanitoban.com/articles/31954

According to a student who spoke with the Winnipeg Jewish Review, Students Against Israeli Apartheid was “a constant presence in the halls of the University of Manitoba during campus group recruitment week.” This student, who did not want to be named, added that it appears that the new group is being spearheaded b “many of the familiar faces’ who were involved in putting on and/or participating in IAW on U of M last year.

 Students Against Israel Apartheid was also listed as one of the organizations that endorsed the visit of George Galloway to Winnipeg on November 26, 2010. 

In an article in October 2010 in the University of Winnipeg’s newspaper the Uniter, http://uniter.ca/view/5028/ , Riyad Twair, a fourth-year computer science student and executive member this new group at University of   Manitoba said that   the group’s “main goal is to be able to hold IAW annually.” He added “We want to hold that event and others of similar flavour throughout the year.” 

Twair also indicated that there were approximately 50 members of this group at U of M and the group plans to open a University of Winnipeg chapter this year.

 According to the Uniter, Paul Meyerson, Israel advocacy chairman for Hillel at U of W said on learning about this group wanting to bring IAW on U of W campus, said “We would have to consult with the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association and U of W administration to see what could be done to put a stop to it.”

However, Maxim Berent, President of Hillel said that Myerson was expressing his own view and not that of Hillel. 

 

Hart Jacob, Director of  Jewish Campus Life for the  Jewish Federation of  Winnipeg  said. “We do not intend to try to stop IAW from taking place. We can’t stop what they are doing. We, will, however, be doing our own Israel advocacy activities on campus.”

David Matas, senior counsel to B’nai Brith, said that he expected that the University of Winnipeg under the leadership of its president Lloyd Axworthy would do what it did last year regarding IAW, where it did not take place.

David Matas, senior honorary counsel for B'nai Brith Canada , wroteinj an email to the Winnipeg Jewish Review what he believed occured last year :

“The anti-Zionist movement attempted an Israel anti-apartheid panel at the University of Winnipeg in 2009, putting up some posters to advertise the panel. The president called together the senior administrators and engaged the student leadership. Administrators met directly as well with the organizers of the event.

‘The event took place, but its description and content changed. The foregone conclusion that Israel was an apartheid state disappeared. The university made every effort to ensure that all points of view were represented. The event became a discussion of the issue rather than a propaganda exercise.

“The University went one further and hosted later its own open public event on the larger issues around Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. The University encouraged as many representatives as possible from different communities to participate in the event.

“This sort of initiative is much truer to university values than simply sitting back and abdicating the institution to hate promoters. Abdication to propagandists who have the goal of destruction of the State of Israel and the impact of creating a hostile environment for Jewish students violates not just broader societal values; it violates university values. A university true to its own values will make every effort to turn away from hate propaganda and towards fair, open, public, balanced discussion.”

The Winnipeg Jewish Review has sent an email to the University of Winnipeg administration asking about their position on IAW for 2011,  and asking them to confirm Matas's description of events as to what transpired last year but as of press time  has not heard back.

[Editor’s note: In a letter to the editor on September 12 2010, Myerson responded to Brian Letour’s article in the  Manitoban claiming that Israel was an apartheid state. Myerson wrote:

“Mr. Brian Latour claims he visited Israel this summer and witnessed how “racist and fascist” Israeli society is., However, the Deputy Israeli Consulate General in San Francisco, Ishmael Khaldi, (who is an Israeli Bedouin,) refutes that false accusation when responding on April 22March 4,nd 2010 to Israeli Apartheid Week. IAW week He said,” “I am a proud Israeli - along with many other non-Jewish Israelis
 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.