Students from the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine have blocked a student motion which would allow for a week of Holocaust education on campus at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.
According to reports received by Campaign Against Antisemitism and Everyday Antisemitism, a motion which aimed to institute a Holocaust Education Week was blocked by the groups.
Not only did the groups oppose the motion, but they also attempted to prevent others attending, essentially preventing Jewish students from having their voices heard. According to a report from a Muslim student*, who condemned the MSA and SJP, members from the two groups blocked hallways and seemingly intimidated Jewish students attempting to attend the meeting, telling one that she wasn’t welcome.
In the Facebook post from the Muslim student, she decries the antisemitism in the Muslim community, saying “we’re literally a step away from Holocaust denial”. She put up a video shortly after, in which she says explicitly “they intimidated Jewish students”.
This is an incredibly worrying event. The attempt by Students for Justice in Palestine to block Holocaust education is sadly not surprising, but it is disgraceful and blatantly antisemitic nonetheless. For an organisation which claims to merely campaign against Israeli policy to then prevent students from learning about the Holocaust, an event which convinced many of the need for a Jewish state, and which predates the existence of Israel, is clearly antisemitic, and a cynical attempt to delegitimise the state of Israel by ‘going after’ the collective Jewish experience of persecution of the worst kind. The fact that Muslim students, who may themselves be worried about rising Islamophobia, have blocked such a motion is equally dismaying.
Not only is the intimidation of Jewish students on University campuses clearly on the rise, but there is also cause for concern in that a University campus, a space reserved for education and to develop those within it, now finds itself unable to undertake a educational program examining one of the defining events of human history. The Holocaust, the attempt to systematically eradicate the entire Jewish people, as well as homosexuals, the disabled, Socialists, Romani people, and others, based on the pseudo-scientific ideas of racial supremacy, and through the use of modern technology to turn genocide into an exercise in efficiency, was a uniquely evil event in history. The ability to confront events like the Holocaust and to attempt to understand how mankind could be driven to such a horrifying moral depth is at the heart of why education is valuable. These are issues which any educated person must be able to consider, and they are issues which do not simply vanish by virtue of discussion about them having been silenced. Students at this University are now being cheated out of a hugely important learning opportunity by antisemitic campus activism, and unfortunately Jewish students must now be feeling incredibly isolated and vulnerable.
We await to see what action the University will take. As of yet, it seems that no official statement has been released by the University.
*the student in question does not attend Ryerson, but we have since corroborated the facts of the story with students who were present.