February 21, 2020

York University Reinstates Pro-Israel Group After Suspension

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

York University in Toronto announced on Jan. 13 that it has reinstated pro-Israel group Herut Canada after a monthlong suspension.

The university suspended the group as well as Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) in December after SAIA-led protests at a Nov. 20 Herut Canada event featuring Reservists on Duty. Video footage shows the protesters disrupting the event and banging on the doors where the event was being held. Footage also showed a fight breaking out, with at least one person injured.

Reservists on Duty, an Israeli nongovernmental organization of reserve soldiers, alleged SAIA members assaulted pro-Israel students; SAIA has denied being a part of the violence and said that the Jewish Defense League assaulted pro-Palestinian protesters.

York University Vice-Provost for Students Lucy Fromowitz and Vice-President Equity for People & Culture Sheila Cote-Meek said in a statement that the university decided to reinstate both student groups after they engaged in separate discussions with the university on Jan. 9.

“We are pleased to report that the discussions were productive and led to proposed agreements that were subsequently reviewed and agreed to by both student organizations and the University,” they said. “As a result, we will be restoring privileges to both student organizations.”

Lawfare Project Executive Director Brooke Goldstein, whose organization intervened on Herut Canada’s behalf, said in a statement, “The only thing Herut is guilty of is trying to have a meaningful discourse about Judaism and Zionism on a college campus plagued by Jew-hating fanatics. While we strongly disagree with the initial suspension, we are pleased that the University has taken the right action now by restoring Herut’s status on campus. Hopefully this action marks the beginning of increased scrutiny of campus anti-Semitism.”

UPDATE: Herut Canada Toronto Director Lauren Isaacs said in a Jan. 16 statement to the Journal, “Herut Canada is pleased that we have been reinstated and are able to run future events at York University. This, however, doesn’t change or excuse the climate of anti-Semitism at York University. We never should have been silenced in the first place. There was absolutely no reason why we were banned. There was no wrongdoing, and we were never even given so much as a single reason as to why we were banned. We have just as much right to speak and celebrate our country as anyone else does. We will not accept being discriminated against simply because we are Jews and Zionists.”

She added: “Thanks to the tireless efforts of our legal team, we are able to run events again. And we plan to run some very soon!”