Zionist Activist Group Claims Victory in Lawsuit Against Canadian Student Government That Banned It From Campus
A Zionist activist group has claimed victory in a lawsuit it brought against a Canadian university’s student government, after the organization was banned from campus last year because of its pro-Israel stance.
Robert Walker — executive director of Hasbara Fellowships Canada — told The Algemeiner on Wednesday that his case against the Student Association (SA) of Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, filed last summer with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, has been concluded and that he was “very pleased and satisfied with the results.”
“Last March, as part of a ‘Social Justice Week,’ the student association put out an invitation to community groups, asking them if they’d like to participate,” Walker explained. “We were rejected because, as the students wrote in an email, we have ‘ties to the State of Israel.’ A couple of month later [in July], we filed a legal action against the student association, and a few days we signed a settlement.”
Walker said the full details of the settlement were confidential, but pointed to Hasbara’s original demands, which included, according to a press release, “$50,000 in damages, an invitation back to campus, and a formal apology, stating that discrimination had occurred.”
“I can tell you, the result that has taken place was exactly what we were looking for,” Walker said.
The SA has issued a statement of apology, explaining that it “deeply regrets” what happened and “sincerely apologizes” to Hasbara generally and Walker specifically, as the individual who had applied for the right to participate in the program.
“The SA aims to promote healthy debate on campus and rejects discrimination of any kind, including against Israeli students or community members,” the statement went on to say. “We welcome Mr. Walker and Hasbara’s participation at a future multicultural event on campus.”
These comments are a marked turnaround from a March statement released by the SA, and remarks by the SA president in May 2016, both of which said Hasbara was rejected because it supports Israel, which the students described as a violator of international law.
Walker said he believed this was the first time that a pro-Israel group had taken legal action against a Canadian student group based on anti-Israel discrimination.
He added that he “absolutely would go back to the campus.”
Earlier this year, a multicultural festival at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology was disrupted by students covering up an Israeli flag with its Algerian counterpart. A Jewish student who then wrote about the incident on social media was told to “go back to Palestine.”