December 10, 2019

Fight Breaks Out During Protest of Reservists on Duty Event at Canadian University

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A fight broke out Nov. 20 during protests of a Reservists on Duty event at York University in Toronto, injuring at least one person.

The Toronto Sun reports that York University’s Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) led the protests, highlighting videos showing the protesters chanting of “Viva viva Intifada!” and “Free Palestine!” Reservists on Duty, an organization featuring Israel Defense Force reservists discussing their time in the army, posted a video to their Facebook page showing the protesters banging on the doors of the event and interrupting it. The video also shows punches being thrown at a stairwell before police intervene; Reservists on Duty claimed in their Facebook post the protesters had “assaulted a few Jewish students.”

According to the Sun, one person that was injured filed a police report but there aren’t currently any charges.

Reservists on Duty CEO Amit Deri told the Jerusalem Post, “We will continue to speak. We will never be afraid to do so.”

York University President Rhonda Lenton denounced the protests in a Nov. 21 statement, saying “that acts of violence are not tolerated on our campuses and York University has zero-tolerance for hate.”

She later added: “In democratic societies, universities play a central role in facilitating debate on difficult issues. Shouting, threats of violence and attempts to intimidate community members are not consistent with the responsibilities we all share.”

B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said in a statement, “The Toronto Police Service and York University should be commended for ensuring that this event could be safely held. Enraged mobs cannot be allowed to prevent lawful and peaceful gatherings from taking place on campus. Further investigation is required into how a registered student group was permitted to glorify terrorism and attempt to intimidate those peacefully assembling on campus. There must be consequences for violent behavior.”

Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper said in a statement to the Journal, “Will York University ever hold pro-Palestinian extremists accountable for their violent Jew-hatred? What about rights of Jewish students, the speaker and other students? Won’t stop until University holds these bigots accountable.”

StandWithUs Canada Executive Director Meryle Kates similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “We are deeply dismayed at the shameful demonstrations of hate at York University. Anti-Israel protesters once again attempted to deny pro-Israel speakers the freedom of speech we have the right to expect at any university campus in Canada. We must stand together as a community to condemn this bigotry.”

SAIA at York University celebrated the protests in a Facebook post.

“The students’ message to York University was loud and clear yesterday: war criminals actively participating in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and in violations of Palestinian human rights are not welcome on our campus!” they wrote. “Thanks to everyone who showed up!”

SAIA at York University did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.