‘Punch a Zionist’ Tweeter Enabled by McGill Student Government to Remain in Key Post Due to Anti-Israel Sentiment on Campus, Jewish Activists Say
Jewish leaders at McGill University in Montreal attributed the ability of the student government representative who tweeted “punch a Zionist” to remain in one of his positions — though he resigned, under pressure, from another — to widespread anti-Israel sentiment on campus.
Simon Paransky, co-president of the student group Israel on Campus, told The Algemeiner that “support for Igor [Sadikov‘s] violent views” led to a vote Wednesday not to impeach him from the Arts Undergraduate Society Legislative Council (AUS).
“The problem is, I think, student government at McGill is composed mostly of people who think like Igor — who mistakenly think that there is no way to criticize Israel or be anti-Zionist without backing incitement,” said Paransky. “For a long time, Jewish and Zionist students have told me they that believe the McGill student leadership is not on our side when it comes to issues of Israel and Judaism, and I’ve tried to convince them we have other channels. But those channels are drying up. I worry that, institutionally, we have no more avenues in student government to make our voice heard.”
Grace Miller-Day, an executive of McGill’s pro-Israel group, told The Algemeiner that at the AUS meeting determining if Sadikov would be impeached, “Far more students spoke in favor of him than against him. The conversation became not about the violence Igor encouraged, but about their political views of Israel, Palestine and Zionism. Some said that they couldn’t condemn him for espousing violence against Zionism, because Zionism is inherently violent — which is, of course, untrue.”
Furthermore, she added, “Students also said the threats Igor has personally received since this whole thing started outweighed the threat he posed by advocating violence. It was distressing.”
Miller-Day said that student leadership has thrown its support behind Sadikov, leaving students like her feeling like they are not welcome.
According to Paransky, the AUS first issued a call for Sadikov’s resignation, but retracted it after the McGill principal involved herself in the controversy, as The Algemeiner reported, and stated that Sadikov must go.
Paransky welcomed the administration’s intervention, saying, “At this point, there is nothing more the pro-Israel community can do without it.”
Independent student-run newspaper The McGill Tribune reported late last week that Sadikov stepped down from his role on the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Board of Directors, and the SSMU legislative council will be voting March 9 on a motion to remove Sadikov from his remaining student government posts.
The Students’ Society, the AUS and Sadikov did not respond to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment.
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.