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February 13, 2017 4:56 pm

McGill Student Council Silence Over Member’s Tweet Calling on Followers to ‘Punch a Zionist’ Outrages, Frightens Jews, Pro-Israel Activists on Campus

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Igor Sadikov, McGill student and a member of the Legislative Council and Board of Directors of the Students’ Society of McGill University. Photo: SSMU.

Igor Sadikov, McGill student and a member of the Legislative Council and Board of Directors of the Students’ Society of McGill University. Photo: SSMU.

Pro-Israel activists at Montreal’s McGill University told The Algemeiner on Monday that they are outraged at the failure of the student government to condemn one of its representatives for calling on his Twitter followers last week to “punch a Zionist.”

Simon Paransky, co-president of Israel on Campus at the Canadian school, called it appalling that the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) did not denounce the social media call for violence by Igor Sadikov, a SSMU Legislative Council and Board of Directors member, who not only didn’t apologize for his rhetoric, but doubled down on it. 

Sadikov defended his statement on Thursday in an interview with The Algemeiner, saying it expressed his “opposition to Israel’s dispossession and colonization of Palestinian land and to the treatment of Palestinian people as second-class,” in the same way that he is against “colonialism in Canada, the United State and elsewhere in the world.”

On Thursday, during an SSMU meeting, Sadikov failed to retract his tweet and told those in attendance that “it is contested Jews are an ethno-religious group.” Referring to his statement as a “clear and unequivocal antisemitic trope,” Paransky said that when Sadikov was called out for this at a meeting of the Legislative Council, nobody spoke up.

“For blatant antisemitism to be greeted with silence is simply unacceptable,” he said. “No other group on campus would have to justify why it doesn’t deserve to be targeted, after being threatened with violence.”

Another McGill student leader, who requested anonymity for fear of backlash, told The Algemeiner, “It’s scary that a person’s call to violence, based on his political beliefs, is being accepted here on campus. It’s not a nice feeling to be in a situation where you can’t express your political views in a place where you should be able to have a safe discussion. The Jewish and Zionist community is greatly disappointed by the student government’s response.”

In a Facebook post on Friday, which has since been widely shared, McGill student Molly Harris said she has never felt “so targeted, disgusted or disappointed” as she did after attending the Legislative Council meeting.

She recounted:

I asked how SSMU and the Arts Undergraduate Society of McGill University would protect my safety as someone who identifies as Zionist. Again, I was met with silence, until the representative who initially advocated the punch said that while he regretted the way that he phrased his call for violence, he stood behind the sentiment. He then said that the violence that he was encountering after posting his thoughts on a public social media account was worse than any violence that I, as a Zionist, or my Zionist peers, would encounter or have encountered. Once again, all 37 elected members of SSMU council were completely silent. Their silence spoke volumes about how little they care about Jewish and Zionist students….

I have never felt more scared or unsafe in my entire life…knowing that students who hold power — a vast amount of power — advocate violence against Zionists and Jews is absolutely terrifying.

McGill officials said in a statement that Sadikov could face disciplinary action for his “disturbing” tweet.

Meanwhile, the editor of the campus newspaper The McGill Daily — which  Sadikov used to edit — framed the tweet, pointing to it as an “alleged incitement to violence,” and claiming that since it was “posted to [his] personal account after working hours,” it should not count against him.

The controversy surrounding the tweet, he said, “rests on the conflation of Zionism with Jewishness which, while widely believed, is in fact a misconception; many Jewish people do not identify with the settler-colonial ideology of Zionism or the goals and actions of the state of Israel.”

The McGill Daily, as The Algemeiner reported, has openly admitted to censoring pro-Israel content on the grounds that Zionism is a product of “settler colonial ideology.”

McGill — which ranked fourth on The Algemeiner‘s 2016 list of the “40 Worst Colleges for Jewish Students” in North America — has been described by students as one of the most contentious institutions in Canada for Jews and Israel-supporters.

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  • Mike AU

    That would be “Poetic Justice” ! Which
    is better than no justice !

  • Joseph Feld

    Some of us Hopkins Alumni have had a special feeling for McGill because of its earlier link to Johns Hopkins. That special feeling is turning sour by the day.

  • jeff

    I hope you mean “prosecuted”!

    • Aliquantillus

      Of course. But I admit that I also hope “persecuted” 🙂

  • jeff

    Sadly, just as it took a hands-off approach in February 2016 when the SSMU executive resolved to support the BDS movement, the McGill administration is again refusing to intervene when the academic freedom and physical safety of its students and faculty is being endangered. In a public letter dated Feb 13, McGill Principal and Vice Chancellor Suzanne Fortier stated,

    “In reacting to this incident, I urge all members of the McGill community to respond in a manner consistent with the principles that underlie our academic mission: academic freedom, integrity, responsibility, equity, and inclusiveness.
    “Achieving a commitment to these principles requires that the McGill community maintain an environment where different views and ideas can be debated with mutual respect.”

    However, while acknowledging that the University had received requests to get involved in the matter, Principal Fortier’s letter stated,

    “SSMU is an independently incorporated organization, and as such it bears responsibility for properly managing its internal affairs according to its own governance procedures.”

    One has to wonder: would the university adopt the same laissez-faire approach if a student had Tweeted “punch a Palestinian” or “hit a hijab wearer”? You can bet the SSMU would at least be screaming for academic discipline, if not a full police investigation. And maybe even Principal Fortier would decide to take action.

  • Ruleoflaw

    At McGill, the Student-run newspaper admittedly suppresses freedom of expression, denying it to Zionists. This policy is arguably a form violence, albeit not physical. We now see McGill student, Igor Sadigov, expressly advocating physical violence against an identifiable minority, the same minority whose rights of expression are denied by the Daily. I ask the McGill administration: Where does this lead other than to an escalation of violence? If the rule of law and civil discourse is not swiftly safeguarded by the disciplinary process, vigilantism may result. If someone advocated their followers to “punch a Feminst today” or “punch a Black Lives Matter proponent today” how long would it take to see some disciplinary action. We are watching how you deal with this.

  • Phil Lesh Fan

    Enough with my fellow Jews being afraid. Enough! Igor Sadikov just needs to be punched in the face when he is encountered, and the Jewish organizations at McGill should put that statement out on their social media. It is obvious that McGill University will not mind, and turn about is fair play.

  • enufizenuf

    Despite the blatant Jew-hatred found on Canadian University campuses, largely perpetrated by muslims, most Canadian Jews are so stupid as to vote for the pro-muslim Liberal Party headed by the nitwit Trudeau, who will double the muslim population here in the next few years.

  • Pearl Belkowitz

    A once proud, excellent, top school has become another school to incite antisemitism. That the administration did nothing and said nothing about this shows they agree and accept these antiSemitic tropes! ! Shame on McGill. They are now part of a shameful group of colleges that promote antisemitism. It is no longer a safe school of higher learning for its Jewish students. I suppose if concentration camps are opened on campus McGill would go along with it.
    How low the mighty have fallen!

  • Bill Pearlman

    If I said someone should take a baseball bat to young Igors head, Brooklyn style, is that just an alleged incitement?

  • Menachem Ben Yakov

    All this nonsense over some smarmy little pissant making an anti-Semitic comment. And the Jewish students exhibit fear over this little twerp? Just do to him what he wants to do to you first and harder. Teach the pos a lesson he won’t forget.