Letter to the Editor: Fight anti-Arab Racism without dismissing anti-Semitism

From Simon Paransky 

I take issue with the downplaying of anti-Semitism in a recent The Bull & Bear opinion piece, “The Politics of Unending Chances.” I do not doubt that anti-Arab racism exists at McGill. Nor do I doubt that Arab students and employees at our school face terrible double standards. But I am dismayed that the author chose to normalize the recent controversy surrounding Igor Sadikov. The author laments, “If one person at McGill tweets ‘Punch a Zionist today,’ the whole Palestinian advocacy movement is discredited.” The hard truth is that the Palestinian advocacy movement discredited themselves.

If BDS supporters had disassociated themselves from Sadikov and condemned the violent tweet and his subsequent antisemitic remarks — namely, his rejection of Jewish peoplehood — they could have continued their work and maintained their moral integrity – but they didn’t. Instead, they doubled down and defended an anti-Semite who threatened violence against his fellow students. They jeered and laughed when students voiced concerns about their safety on campus. Sadikov’s actions discredited the Palestinian advocacy movement because they exposed that the Palestinian advocacy movement at McGill dabbles in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and condones violence. Such actions should discredit any movement.

I believe the author that anti-Arab sentiment exists at McGill. It is not my place to deny it. Racists too often get free passes. And, as the past year has shown, so do anti-Semites.

The author continues to claim that “… Arab students are neglected while other issues are highlighted as unacceptable by those in a position of power.” This unreasonably presumes that it was easy to get an immediate response to the Sadikov scandal. It is not easy to sit through over 24 hours total of meetings in which an anti-Semite is championed as a martyr and concerned students are laughed at. I would also like to remind the author that, despite the claims of Sadikov’s allies on the SSMU exec, the administration did not sway the SSMU’s decision to call for his resignation. I urge the author to investigate before presuming that little to no effort went in to getting the SSMU to take action.

I believe the author that anti-Arab sentiment exists at McGill. It is not my place to deny it. Racists too often get free passes. And, as the past year has shown, so do anti-Semites. As a Jew and a Zionist on campus, I can relate to the frustration of seeing a lack of action in the face of hate and abuse. But it is disingenuous to denounce discrimination against one group while simultaneously dismissing discrimination against another. The author makes a compelling case against complacency. I simply hope that they recognize that there is merit in not advocating for justice selectively.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Bull & Bear.

3 Comments

  • Alex Jameson says:

    When will you understand that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism? How disingenuous it is to call an anti-Zionist Jew (Sadikov) anti-Semitic!

  • Mila says:

    Thanks for your concern. I too take issue with anti-Semitism on campus and agree that it’s downplayed. My issue is that people have taken the questionable actions of one (WHITE!) guy (Igor) and used it to dismiss legitimate grievances of Arabs. You ironically seem to be dismissing pro-Palestinian activists by saying we discredit ourselves. Because here, a fringe group of students represents all Arab activists without looking at what I as an Arab activist released at the time of Igor’s tweet: milaghorayeb.wixsite.com/portfolio/single-post/2017/02/12/A-concern-regarding-leftist-politics-and-anti-Semitism

    But I feel a bit hurt as an Arab that my article which was not really about zionism or anti-Semitism, and was about so much more than that, is being trivialized here because I didn’t direct enough attention to Zionism or anti-Semitism.

    As you can see, I took the time to turn to my community and speak to them about anti-Semitism, and now I simply wanted to advocate for Arabs by request of the Bull and Bear who ASKED me to write something on Gary Dunphy’s treatment of Arabs at McGill, aka the main point of my article. I think I was perfectly within my boundaries taking space to talk about issues that affect my community in one article. And my WHOLE point was against being lumped in with the people you seemingly associate me with. So, sorry if I used one bad example that wasn’t clear enough. You can take it out and my point still stands.

    • Simon says:

      That’s the issue. You could have made your point just as well (if not better) if you hadn’t tied it to Judaism or Zionism at all. It was more than just a bad example. You downplayed antisemitism and violence an attempt to make your point more salient. But this undermines the argument more than anything else. You end up dismissing one form of discrimination while rightfully trying to draw readers’ attention to another.

      The Palestinian advocacy movement’s representatives at McGill, from SPHR and the BDS Action Network, came to support Igor’s disgusting actions wherever and whenever they could. By allying themselves with an antisemite, they discredited the movement they represent. This is what Jews, Zionists, and allies at McGill saw. I’m not dismissing you personally. I’m calling out the Palestinian advocacy movement for supporting an antisemite.

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