Ontario’s New Democrats deny connection between anti-Zionism, the BDS and anti-Semitism despite major anti-Semitic event at Ryerson University
On Thursday, December 1st, a motion rejecting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) was passed at the Ontario Legislature. The motion was put forward by Gila Martow, Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Thornhill calling on the Ontario government to recognize the toxic and hateful nature of the BDS.
The Ontario Legislative Assembly voted to pass Moton 36 which affirmed the Legislature’s position on the BDS Movement and that it “stands firmly against any position or movement that promotes or encourages any form of hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance in any way.”
MPP’s from both the Ontario Progressive Conservatives and Liberal Parties applauded the motion and emphasized on the importance of condemning this movement and its insidious agenda.
Despite the positive reactions of both the Liberals and Conservatives, Jagmeet Singh, New Democratic Party MPP for the Bramalea, Gore and Malton areas expressed his opposition of the movement citing “criticism of a government’s policies” and “free speech” as his reasons.
In a speech lasting around 12 minutes, Singh went on to explain how anti-Semitism is a real and growing issue in Canada and Ontario and emphasized on how it must be addressed. Following this statement, he then proceeded with the inevitable ‘but’ stating “to conflate criticism of a government’s policies with hate speech is a distraction from the real problem of anti-Semitism.” Adding that “dissent, protest and freedom of speech are a fundamental part of democracy.”
During Martow’s presentation of the motion, she emphasized on how the BDS sits at the root of most university campus anti-Semitism and is not only a call to boycott Jewish businesses, but to boycott voices as well. She also touched on the growing concern regarding BDS groups at universities and their targeting of Jewish students under the veil of free speech and how many will attempt to pass off virulent Jew hatred as merely an objection to Zionism.
Despite the opposition from the Jagmeet Singh, the motion passed 49 to 5, and only members of the NDP in attendance voted against it.
Two days prior to the motion’s passing, a blatant act of anti-Semitism occurred on the campus of Toronto’s Ryerson University when the Students for Justice in ‘Palestine’ (SJP) group along with members of the Ryerson Muslim Students Association (RMSA) organized and facilitated a ‘walkout’ in protest of a motion put forward by Jewish students requesting a Holocaust Education Week.
The event took place during Ryerson’s semi-annual general meeting held so eligible members could vote on important student issues and help set the direction of the students’ union. A member of the Hillel Ryerson student group presented a motion to have a Student Union sponsored Holocaust education week. When presenting the motion, Jewish students were met with hostility as people shut them down and attempted to silence them with rude gestures and orders to quiet down.
When the time came to vote on the motion, students began sending text messages in order to coordinate a mass walkout and clear the assembly as an act in protest of the motion.
Executive members of both SJP and RMSA denied any allegations implementing them in the coordinated walkout and claimed to be against all forms of hatred including anti-Semitism.
Despite their claims, evidence surfaced days later confirming the accusations of SJP’s involvement in the hateful event. In the aftermath of the walkout, the campus’ Students Supporting Israel group managed to acquire a recording made during a recent SJP meeting where the group’s executive member, Omar Falasteen revealed his plot to oppose the Holocaust Education Week motion.
This begs the question, if Jagmeet Singh along with the four other NDP MPP’s truly believe anti-Semitism is a concern which needs to be addressed, why did they fail to acknowledge the connection of the BDS Movement and anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism?