FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 21, 2013
Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) Canada is outraged at the York University administration’s decision to revoke the student club status of Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA)-York, until January 2014. IJV calls on the administration to reverse its decision, and to lift the trespass order on a community member who’s a member of SAIA. The administration amazingly justified its decision because the student club had been too loud in their protesting.
“The real reason behind the decisions to ban SAIA and an alumnus from campus is to stifle criticism of Israel’s policies,” said IJV spokesperson, Tyler Levitan. “It appears that the university cares more about appeasing pro-Israel donors than it does in upholding basic freedoms for students.”
IJV is asking its members and free speech advocates to protest the York University ban. “The foundation of democracy is a well-informed public that is able to make consequential decisions. It is shocking that a Canadian university is attacking critical views and information.”
York University’s decision is part of a broader tactic by Israel advocacy organizations that is quickly emerging across Canadian university campuses—censoring Palestinian human rights groups. Both the University of Manitoba Student Union and the University of Regina Student Union have recently passed resolutions that effectively ban Palestine solidarity organizing on campus. “By claiming that SAIA’s work offends and alienates certain students is a preposterous reason for censoring a student club,” said Levitan. “If everything deemed offensive were censored, what kind of a society would we be living in? Criticizing any government’s policies should be welcomed at a university, not silenced.”
This rush to censorship is coming on the heels of two recently passed motions at York University—by the York University Graduate Students Association (GSA) and the York Federation of Students (YFS)—endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel until it complies with international law. The student unions of the University of Toronto Scarborough and Mississauga campuses recently passed BDS motions, as well.
“It isn’t surprising that York University has taken the drastic measure of banning SAIA until January 2014,” said Levitan. “With so much pressure being placed on the administration to divest its funds from companies complicit in human rights violations in the occupied territories, they would rather continue business as usual without having to tolerate contrary views.”
Contact: Tyler Levitan, Campaigns Coordinator for IJV-Canada,