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November 1, 2017 3:57 pm

McGill University Appoints Investigator to Address Allegations of Antisemitism on Campus

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avatar by Shiri Moshe

McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

McGill University in Montreal, Canada has appointed an investigator to probe allegations that three students were removed from leadership roles over their ties to the Jewish community.

Noah Lew claimed on social media last week that the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) did not ratify him as a member of its Board of Directors “because of my Jewish identity and my affiliations with Jewish organizations.”

He added that Alexander Scheffel and Josephine Wright O’Manique — two non-Jewish directors who also failed to be ratified by the SSMU — were voted down “because they opposed the [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement and because they had attempted to support McGill’s Jewish students.”

A day following the publication of Lew’s remarks, McGill principal and vice-chancellor Suzanne Fortier announced the launch of an investigation into the controversy, following allegations “that the votes against one or more of those directors were motivated by anti-Semitism.”

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In a follow-up email sent to students and staff on Tuesday, Fortier indicted that she appointed Spencer Boudreau — a retired professor of education at McGill who also served as the ombudsperson for students — to lead the inquiry. While a high school teacher, Boudreau received an award from the Canadian Jewish Congress for his work promoting interfaith dialogue, according to his biography.

Boudreau is expected to share his findings and recommendations with the university by December 15, after which they will be made public.

Lew is not the first Jewish student to voice concerns about antisemitism at McGill. Last July, McGill student Molly Harris filed a complaint with the SSMU, claiming that a “culture of anti-Semitism” dominates The McGill Daily — the university’s main, independent student newspaper — and condemning “a set of virulently anti-Semitic tweets from a McGill Daily writer.”

The paper responded by claiming that Harris’ complaint “largely rested on the conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, which we understand to be distinct from one another.”

It further clarified that it “maintains an editorial line of not publishing pieces which promote a Zionist worldview, or any other ideology which we consider to be oppressive” — a position that drew a swift backlash from Jewish and pro-Israel organizations.

Robert Walker, national director of the advocacy group Hasbara Fellowships Canada, told The Algemeiner on Wednesday, “McGill’s investigation is definitely a step in the right direction which we welcome.”

“But to truly prevent these incidents from happening, McGill needs to definitively ensure that it uses all the means at its disposal to ensure that SSMU and McGill Daily are held accountable, and that means withholding funding and seeking every possible avenue,” he added. “Incidents will continue to happen unless the culprits are truly held accountable.”

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