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Rabbi Alan Green


by Rabbi Green, posted here October 9, 2017



This is my understanding of the sequence of events that led to Congregation Shaarey Zedek’s decision to withdraw the invitation issued to University of Manitoba President Dr. David Barnard to read from the Megillat Ha-Shoah--a recently composed set of readings with which we commemorate the martyrs of the Holocaust, at a special ceremony held annually during Shoah Week.


The story begins with the University of Manitoba Students Union’s withdrawal of recognition from an organization called Students Against Israel Apartheid—the group that has sponsored Israel Apartheid Week at the U of M in the past—and the banning of this organization from using space at the student union.  The UMSU took this route after ruling that Students Against Israel Apartheid breached UMSU Policy 2009, which disallows any student, or student group, from undermining the dignity or self-esteem of any students on campus. UMSU found that Students Against Israel Apartheid undermined the dignity and self-esteem of students by organizing  a program—Israel Apartheid Week--that branded all supporters of Israel as racists.


Students Against Israel Apartheid attempted to regain their status this year by reapplying to UMSU. Once again, Students Against Israel Apartheid were turned down, because UMSU requires that all student groups follow UMSU policy, and SAIA had already been found to be in breach of Policy 2009.


University of Manitoba students Josh Morry (who made the original UMSU motion) and Mohammed Abas, have since formed a recognized on-campus organization called Arab Jewish Dialogue On Campus (AJDOC), whose goal is to provide a safe space for discussion on the prospects and possibilities for peace in the Middle East. However, Students Against Israel Apartheid responded by teaming up with an off-campus sister organization called Coalition Against Israel Apartheid, which applied to the University of Manitoba to once again run Israel Apartheid Week on campus.


This is where it gets interesting.  The University of Manitoba, claiming it had no other choice, proceeded to circumvent the will of the student government by allowing the off-campus Coalition Against Israel Apartheid to run Israel Apartheid Week on campus.  Dr. Barnard personally intervened to ensure that this would occur.  In fact, Dr. Barnard originally planned to give Coalition Against Israel Apartheid contiguous space in the Student Union building, but backed down after the UMSU, led by President Al Turnbull, intervened to move Israel Apartheid Week out of the mainstream, to the fifth floor of the building.


In the past, Dr. Barnard has hidden behind the fact that Israel Apartheid Week was led by a recognized student group. However, this is no longer the case at the University of Manitoba. The students have determined that by running Israel Apartheid Week, Students Against Israel Apartheid and its sister organization, Coalition Against Israel Apartheid, have crossed the line of respectful behaviour on campus by calling supporters of Israel racist. Dr. Barnard was hardly obligated to invite an off campus group to run a program that the University student government already decided they did not want to have on their campus.


Shaarey Zedek’s withdrawal of Dr. Barnard’s invitation to read from the Megillat Ha-Shoah indicates that this synagogue will not sit idly, while the President of the University blatantly ignores a student decision to draw the line on the dissemination of anti-Israel propaganda, born of pure hatred and distorted logic, that undermines the dignity and self-esteem of student supporters of Israel on campus, in breach of both student and university policy. It indicates that this synagogue will not sit idly, while the President of the University actively intervenes to allow the spread of the kinds of lies that led to the annihilation of six million Jewish men, women, and children, less than seventy-five years ago. 


It also sends another message: that Shaarey Zedek strongly supports the University student government, in its courageous defense of the safety and dignity of all Jewish students, and all supporters of the State of Israel, at the University of Manitoba.  Let them be an example for university student governments throughout the continent, and throughout the world.



Rabbi Alan Green

Senior Rabbi


Congregation Shaarey Zedek

561 Wellington Crescent

Winnipeg MB    R3M 0A6

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