Canadian Student Leader Taking Heat After Comparing Zionism to White Supremacy
A Canadian student leader is facing criticism after making inflammatory comments against Israel and Zionism at a rally earlier this month.
Nour Alideeb, chairperson of the Ontario branch of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), spoke at a demonstration held on December 9th in front of the US Consulate in Toronto, in protest of President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
According to a recording of the event, Alideeb told protesters that she has “the privilege of representing over 350,000 students across the province of Ontario.” She then claimed that university students’ tuition money was “going to pay for military resources in Israel to kill children just like me,” and said the conflict “is about Zionism, and Zionism is rooted in white supremacy, it is rooted in racism, it is rooted in anti-blackness … this is colonialism and we cannot allow them to divide us.”
The advocacy group Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) said this week that it had filed a complaint with the Toronto Police Hate Crimes Unit and CFS over Alideeb’s remarks. It also warned that organizers of the protest — which featured chants including, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — permitted “racism and antisemitism,” pointing to a photograph of an attendee who held a sign claiming, “911 Was A Zionist Job.”
“We have asked the CFS leadership to review Ms. Alideeb’s statements in light of the mandate she holds,” said FSWC head Avi Benlolo.
“It is also our concern that such remarks contribute to the vilification of Jewish Canadians as we have witnessed at all too many rallies on Toronto streets,” Benlolo explained. “It is extremely concerning to see a student leader denigrate an entire community — a community which in fact includes thousands of the very students she claims to represent.”
FSWC told The Algemeiner that while it has not yet heard back from CFS, the Toronto Police Hate Crimes Unit is currently reviewing the complaint.
Alideeb’s claim that Zionism — the movement for Jewish national self-determination — stemmed from white supremacy is being increasingly promoted by anti-Israel activists.
Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, dismissed the allegation in August as “an outrageous comparison and a caricature of what Zionism is.”
“Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people in the Jews historic homeland, is based on providing for equal opportunity for the Jewish people, like others, to have sovereignty in their land while still fully protecting the rights of minorities who live within Israel,” he wrote. “At its core, Zionism is a positive movement and is not intended to be ‘against’ anyone.”
The vast majority of Israeli Jews — about half of whom claim Middle Eastern and North African lineage — identify as Zionists. Similarly, according to a Pew Research report published in 2016, “most U.S. Jews say they are either very or somewhat emotionally attached to Israel and that caring about Israel is essential or important to what being Jewish means to them.”
This is not the first time that Alideeb expressed hostility to Zionism. In tweets published a day before the rally, she wrote that she has “got love for my Jewish friends,” but added, “I hate Zionists.”
In the same tweet, Alideeb also claimed, “I can’t be anti-Semitic [because] I am Semitic.” She instead encouraged people to use the phrase “anti-Jewish.”
The term “antisemitism” was coined in the 19th century by German propagandist Wilhelm Marr in an effort to make Jew-hatred sound more scientific, and is exclusively recognized as denoting such bias by the Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and Encyclopædia Britannica, among others.
The Ontario branch of CFS unanimously voted in 2014 to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Leaders of the movement — launched by Palestinian groups in 2005 — have repeatedly acknowledged that it aims to end Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish nation-state.
Alideeb and CFS did not immediately respond to requests for comment.