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Ezra Levant


By Ezra Levant, November 21, 2010


[printed with premission fo the author]

Here's the "writer's cut" version of my Sun column that ran today.
What is it with university presidents threatening to sic the police on their critics?
In March, University of Ottawa president Allan Rock approved a letter written by his deputy to Ann Coulter, the U.S. political commentator, threatening to prosecute her under the Criminal Code if she said the wrong things in her speech on campus.
Incredibly, Rock was not fired by the university’s trustees for that demolition of academic freedom.
Mamdouh Shoukri, the president of York University, must have been watching. Because he took the legal threats business a step further last week.
Last Wednesday, Shoukri’s university hosted a speech by George Galloway, the disgraced former MP from the UK. On a trip to Gaza, Galloway was filmed handing wads of cash to Hamas, an illegal terrorist group.

Shoukri had no problem with Galloway speaking on his campus. But when Aaron Hoch, a local Jewish rabbi, criticized Galloway and encouraged people to participate in a peaceful protest against him, Shoukri leapt into action.
He had the university’s lawyer fax a letter to the rabbi at his synagogue, demanding he take down his criticisms from his website. And Shoukri went further, claiming that encouraging people to peacefully protest against Galloway “may constitute criminal activity.”
So Galloway and his fellow Hamas supporters were free to have the run of the university. Shoukri even provided them with security.
But if Torontonians dared counter-protest, they could be charged with crimes.
And then there’s the icing on the cake: Shoukri demanded a written apology from Rabbi Hoch. Hoch claimed Shoukri was insufficiently concerned about Galloway’s anti-semitism and harassment of Jewish students on campus. To show just how concerned he was, Shoukri demanded the rabbi shut up.
That’s how it works back in Egypt, where Shoukri comes from. Anti-Semitic groups get official podiums from which to speak, and Jews are silenced. But that’s not how we do it in Canada.
Or at least it’s not supposed to be. The president of York University’s student federation likes to roll Egyptian-style, too. Last year he was part of a group of pro-Palestinian radicals who swarmed the Jewish students on campus, who had to barricade themselves into a closed room for safety. The student president’s name is Krisna Saravanamuttu, and on Wednesday night when he saw Jewish students protesting against Galloway – he let out a torrent of swears against them.
At least he didn’t send them a threatening letter like his role model did.
And that’s the thing about having university presidents who are tone-deaf to academic values like free speech and non-violence. The students watch and learn.
When the University of Ottawa wrote its threatening letter to Ann Coulter, leftist student activists took it as a green light to do anything necessary to storm the event and shut it down – and U of O’s security didn’t stop them.
Same thing at York: if Shoukri can threaten Jewish leaders with legal demand letters, it’s not too many steps further for a student leader to threaten them with swears and physically intimidate them. A fish rots from the head down, and at U of O and York the rot is well-progressed.
But it’s unfair to say that York University is hostile to all Jews. It welcomes some of them – or at least their money.
A Jew named Seymour Schulich donated $27 million to their business school. A Jew named Barry Sherman gave $5 million to their health centre. The late Milton Harris and his family – he was a president of the Canadian Jewish Congress – broke the $5 million mark, too. In fact, all of York’s biggest donors are Jews.
If you’re a Jew who gives Shoukri lots of money, he’ll name a building after you. If you’re a Jew who protests Hamas sympathizers, he’ll threaten to sue you.
It’s so simple, students can grasp it.

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