McGill-Tel Aviv College Partnership: Why I Interrupted Main Funding Announcement

McGill-Tel Aviv College Partnership: Why I Interrupted Main Funding Announcement
Canadian activist and author Yves Engler. (Picture: Yves Engler web site)

By Yves Engler

On Wednesday, August 31, I interrupted a significant funding announcement at McGill to ask the pinnacle of the college about her suppression of Palestine solidarity.

As she spoke from the School Membership’s stage I requested Principal Suzanne Fortier, “Do McGill college students have the appropriate to oppose the killing of Palestinian youngsters? Have they got the appropriate to oppose Israeli colonialism and apartheid?” McGill’s principal failed to reply.

I then acknowledged that her administration’s risk to cancel the scholar union’s funding after college students voted overwhelmingly for a “Palestine Solidarity Coverage” was “anti-democratic and anti-Palestinian”. I added it was “shameful” and made her “complicit in Israeli colonialism and violence”.

In 24 hours, my 70-second video has been considered 80,000 times on Twitter. Although a number of company media retailers have been within the room, all of them seem to have ignored my disruption, which included me holding up a “Free Palestine” placard within the entrance of the room.

In March 71{66dc31293c2260cb9172669df609ae161dc6e72a8b49d2ae72b9a1fbbc7d2bf4} of undergraduate college students voted for a “Palestine Solidarity Coverage” committing the College students’ Society of McGill College (SSMU) to take a stand towards Israel’s system of racial discrimination. The decision known as for a bunch of measures together with SSMU divesting from and boycotting “firms and establishments complicit in settler-colonial apartheid towards Palestinians.”

In response, B’nai B’rith “known as on McGill College to right away stop funding SSMU till it rescinds this bogus referendum outcome.” McGill’s administration acted by threatening to terminate its Memorandum of Settlement with SSMU, which regulates charges, use of the identify, and different issues between the college and the scholar union.

In response, college students organized rallies and outdoors teams petitioned the administration with over a thousand people emailing Fortier. Rock legend Roger Waters, writer Yann Martel, former MP Libby Davies, writer Chris Hedges, and 200 others signed a public letter criticizing the administration’s threats as anti-democratic and anti-Palestinian. On the eve of his July 15 efficiency at Montreal’s Bell Centre, Waters participated in a well-mediatized on-line rally in assist of McGill’s Palestine solidarity activists.

McGill is the location of crucial campus battles over Canadian complicity in Palestinian dispossession. On one facet are these selling pupil democracy, tutorial freedom, and universalist values. On the opposite facet of the fence, there are highly effective outdoors strain teams, rich donors, and proponents of apartheid.

The occasion I disrupted highlights one component of the facility steadiness. It was a funding announcement for a undertaking that companions McGill with Tel Aviv College. In one other step within the corporatization of upper training, Canadian-Israeli billionaire Sylvan Adams put up $29 million to ascertain the Sylvan Adams Sports activities Science Institute. In recent times Adams has plowed tens of tens of millions of {dollars} into numerous sports activities and cultural initiatives explicitly designed to whitewash Israeli apartheid and violence.

Zionist donors have vital affect at McGill. Professional-Israel people have contributed far more cash to the college than pro-Palestinian voices, which has enormously strengthened anti-Palestinianism amongst directors centered on funding.

The Israel foyer understands the fundraising dynamic. As I detailed right here, it’s not unusual for pro-apartheid voices to publicly name on the Jewish neighborhood to withhold donations to universities to strain them to clamp down on pro-Palestinian activism. An understanding of fundraising dynamics partly explains why B’nai B’rith is so emboldened of their response to McGill.

Final month B’nai Brith introduced a lawsuit towards McGill College, SSMU and pupil group Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), which sponsored the Palestine Solidarity Coverage. B’nai Brith is suing an administration that successfully did what was requested of them by threatening SSMU’s funding association. For his or her half, SSMU buckled within the face of administrative strain and refused to ratify a Palestine solidarity coverage backed by 71{66dc31293c2260cb9172669df609ae161dc6e72a8b49d2ae72b9a1fbbc7d2bf4} of undergraduate voters.

In an interview with, SPHR member Leila Kanafani labeled the go well with “laughable”. She famous, “it’s ridiculous for B’nai Brith to additionally sue the McGill administration and the SSMU after they’re truly on their facet they usually’ve succeeded in stopping the coverage from being carried out.” (SPHR says they haven’t been served with court docket paperwork so it’s unclear if B’nai Brith’s lawsuit announcement was merely a public relations train.)

Irrespective, B’nai Brith’s over-the-top response to pupil democracy has supplied the Palestine solidarity motion a singular alternative to speak about rising opposition to apartheid at Canada’s most well-known college (and amongst youth extra typically). Pupil activists have pushed again towards the rich, pro-apartheid, forces dictating McGill’s coverage.

SPHR says it received’t again down within the face of B’nai Brith’s authorized risk. “I’m actually not anxious in any respect. The truth is, it’s the other, we’re fairly proud,” Kanafani instructed Rabble. “We’re going to stroll on this campus with our heads held excessive. If this lawsuit is an try and intimidate us, to attempt to make us cower and afraid of bringing something on, it’s invigorating us to do fairly the other.”

 – Yves Engler is the writer of Canada and Israel: Constructing Apartheid and quite a few different books. He contributed this text to The Palestine Chronicle. Go to his web site:

Hafidah Rosyid

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