Thursday, March 4, 2010

Israel Apartheid Week at York University

[This week's Toronto Torah is here.]

The week has been a packed week, and it’s not over yet. Purim was so busy, and Pesach preparation is hitting hard. We have many Pesach programs to plan, learning to do, shiurim to prepare, as well as all of the usual shiurim. And, on Sunday I’m hopping an early morning flight to YU for the Chag haSemichah, to return that night having lost my one day with my kids.

So when someone suggested yesterday afternoon that I stop in at York University to witness firsthand the inhuman wickedness that is licensed under the oxymoronic Israel Apartheid Week banner and with the complicity and funding of York University’s biased administration, I had excuses ready to hand: Had the suggestion come earlier, I could have worked it in, but I just don’t have any gaps in the schedule. Meetings through lunch and dinner, the last day of this orgy of hatred is Thursday so there’s no time, you know the story.

But that’s not really why I don't want to go.

It’s not that I don’t know how to do the campus thing. I’ve attended rallies and demonstrations. Alongside an esteemed professor, I debated two anti-Israel professors at Moravian College several years ago, in front of a very hostile crowd. I’ve written newspaper articles and engaged in on-line activism. I know how to be present even if the apostles of animus and pablum propagandists won’t listen.

I just really don’t want to do it. I can’t see going and shouting down mobs of haters. I don’t need to be there; who volunteers for root canal, without anesthesia? And so I’m reluctant to go.

But that’s bad, very bad. Because that’s exactly what they’re counting on. They’re counting on me, and thousands like me, to sit this one out. Sitting this one out makes it easier for us to sit out the next one, and the next one. And, eventually, the voices speaking out against their lies and their trumped-up narrative become smaller and weaker, and the boycotts become stronger, and the voice of civilization and humanity and kindness is outshouted by ugly people with ugly visions for what they will do to those nasty Jews who dare to survive and thrive in the middle of Dar al-Islam.

So I guess I will go, after all. Today.


[Update: I went - and it was a dud, I'm glad to say. Nothing at all going on. A small lecture to an interested group in a classroom, no big demonstrations or displays around - other than the pro-Israel booths! I'm relieved.]


  1. I believe I did something, though perhaps not my full share.

    I met with the current Acting Dean of Osgoode Hall School of law at York, and explained to her the lopsided requirements for events on campus. We also discussed the offensiveness of the term 'apartheid', and the applicability of hate speech legislation to campus events.

  2. You did the right thing by going. You helped the students understand that there is support for them. You helped to remind them that this madness isn't reality and that they're part of a community.

    In effect you helped our future and that is always worthwhile.

  3. Laya-
    Glad to hear it!


    Thanks - but, actually, it ended up being a bit of a dud. See the update I'm about to post.

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  5. I think the point is not convincing the anti-Israeli students - they've made up their minds. The point is to not let the atmosphere be hijacked by them. It's about convincing those in the middle.

  6. Joseph-
    I'd definitely agree that this is a goal.