A left-leaning Canadian campus group admitted to using anti-Semitic attacks to remove a Jewish student from his student government position.
Noah Lew, a Jewish student at McGill University in Montreal, was re-nominated for a position on the Students’ Society of McGill University, or SSMU. But the college’s General Assembly rejected him after he was the target of a nasty, anti-Semitic smear campaign. The controversial vote was carried out without discussion.
“(About) 160 people voted no to a director only because he was Jewish,” the GA president said, “and the discontent seems to be coming from one issue that is political and has nothing to do with work performance.”
McGill has been criticized for anti-Semitism after BDS, the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, formed on campus. An off-shoot of that movement, Democratize SSMU, has admitted highlighting Lew’s Jewish identity to urge students to oppose him. The group claimed he was “actively harming Palestinian students” by letting his politics interfere with his leadership duties.
McGill’s principal, Suzanne Fortier, wrote in a statement that the university is addressing the “disturbing allegations of anti-Semitism.” She said the allegation will be thoroughly investigated and a task force and support line will be created for the campus community.
“I was blocked from participating in student government because of my Jewish identity and my affiliations with Jewish organizations”
After the backlash, Democratize SSMU released a statement apologizing.
“The material in question has since been deleted, but for transparency’s sake we would like to apologize for the way in which an event created by this campaign was insensitive to anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish people as corrupt and politically powerful,” the statement said. “We thoroughly apologize for any harm that the statement caused. We want to validate that anti-Semitism is not acceptable anywhere, and is a real and toxic force in our society and on campus.”
Lew responded to the statement on Facebook.
“If BDS is not anti-Semitic,” he said, “why was I barred from participating in student government because of my Jewish identity?”
Lew said he had long heard about the student government’s anti-Semitic hostility, but until this incident had never experienced it himself. Before he joined the student governing body, he was told by other students that he should hide his affiliation with Judaism and Jewish organizations.
Igor Sadikov, a radical BDS supporter, earlier this year was forced to resign from his position as director of SSMU after he tweeted “punch a Zionist today.”
While Lew said the attacks were “incredibly upsetting,” he’s also optimistic.
“I am happy that the discriminatory agenda of BDS McGill that has been swept under the rug for years is finally out in the open,” he said, “so that we may all come together to defeat it.”