Policy


apartheid-week-poster1Even though Equity Services at Carleton University is being tight lipped about both the complaints they received regarding the IAW poster and their legal justification for the ban, the Jewish Tribune has brazenly published one of the complaints.

Ariella Kimmell, vice-president, external, of the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students, filed a personal complaint with Equity Services at Carleton about the posters. She said the posters use ‘Nazi and Holocaust imagery’ to make the situation of the Palestinians in Israel look like that of Jewish people in concentration camps during World War II. (Jewish Tribune, Feb. 26, 2009)

Last week I spoke with a representative from Equity Services to file a complaint about censoring political speech and expression. I specifically mentioned that it is completely fraudulent to claim that Jewish suffering has a monopoly on the cartoon depiction of barbed wire, walls and military aggression. The representative was not there to debate with me, rather to courteously absorb my criticism and take notes.

I mentioned that there was a glaring double standard with activism on campus while showing the representative another article from the Jewish Tribune.

Called simply ‘Terror Built This Fence,’ the controversial presentation – which was at York and was on dislplay there for about two weeks before coming to Ottawa – arrived at the Atrium of the University Centre of Carleton University for one day only April 3.

The display itself comprises a 15-foot by 5-foot chainlink fence – a replica of Israel’s Security Fence – with photographs of Israeli suffering on one side, and terrorist beliefs on the other. The Israeli side shows about two dozen graphic colour pictures, including one of an Israeli emergency worker holding up a blood-soaked tzizit. It is hard to hold tears back looking at the photo of four yeshiva boys crying out in agony at the loss of their school mates in the attack last month in Jerusalem. There is a close up shot of a leg pierced with shrapnel. (Jewish Tribune, Apr. 13, 2008)

The representative from Equity Services had not heard of this event but she had only been with Carleton for about 10 months. However, when I asked Feridun Humdullahpur (Provost) about this incident, he said he couldn’t remember it ever happening! I told him that the fact he didn’t even remember was telling in and of itself and that I would be very surprised if the university did not receive formal complaints relating to the display.

This glaring double standard illustrates how the University’s claim of neutrality is demonstrably false. Why didn’t the university kindly remind the entire university community that “Terror Built This Fence” was not representative of the views or opinions of Carleton University like when Al Haq visited? Why did the administration not feel the need to remind everyone to be respectful and civil when debating controversial issues because of the “Terror Built This Fence” exhibit? Can you imagine the cries of anti-Semitism that would envelop Carleton’s decision to ban the “Terror Built This Fence” display because it was ‘likely to incite hatred’ or that it used ‘Nazi and holocaust imagery’ to make the case for Israel’s brutal subjugation of Palestinians?

Nonetheless, it would be a lie for me to say that the University took no action in respect to the fence display.

Eventually security came and asked the organizers to move the fence to a smaller place in the Atrium. (Jewish Tribune, Apr. 13, 2008)

The article that was earlier quoted (Jewish Tribune, Feb. 26, 2009) began with a statement not falling short from taking credit for the banning of the IAW posters.

Following B’nai Brith Canada’s full-page ad in the National Post demanding an end to ‘Hate Fests’ on campuses, Carleton University deemed Israeli Apartheid Week posters offensive and has banned them from its property.

When I called B’nai Brith asking about their defamatory ads in the National Post the secretary asked if I would like to contribute to their campaign financially. I was able to speak to Michael Mostyn. When asked about IAW, he told me that the term apartheid was ‘false’ and ‘repulsive’ in relation to Israel. He also told me that events such as this (IAW) would only further polarize any discourse on the subject. When asked if large advertisements in one of Canada’s national newspapers calling Carleton students anti-Semites and a legitimate event a hate fest was polarizing, he simply said ‘no.’

Carleton University President Roseann O'Reilly Runte (carleton.ca)

Carleton University President Roseann O'Reilly Runte (carleton.ca)

In response to the banning of the 2009 Israeli Apartheid Week posters at Carleton, over 100 students, professors and community members rallied in support of free speech and expression on campus (Feb. 26). The event consisted of a gathering to explain the current repression on campus relating to Palestinian solidarity and a symbolic silent march to the President’s office to publicly read a speech and deliver her a letter addressing their grave concerns dealing with the political repression on campus. While the speech was being read, Runte awkwardly stood by with CBC News cameras capturing the entire event. Runte responded to the speech by reassuring students that they are able to speak and are being listened to. She then went back into her office and locked the door, refusing an interview with the CBC cameraman.

I think your presence here is exactly an evidence that you can speak on campus. And the fact that I listened to you is a fact that you are heard. Thank you for coming here today.

In CBC’s reporting of the poster ban at the University of Ottawa, they made specific mention of Runte’s participation in public relations trips to Israel while President at Old Dominion University. When I asked Feridun Humdullahpur (Provost) about Runte’s public relations trips and mentioned that students were worried about outside pressure affecting university policy, he assured me that the university’s actions are not influenced by outside pressure or lobbying, including B’nai Brith’s recent ads attempting to bully students raising advocacy about Palestinian human rights.

In 2005, Runte filed a daily blog during her trip to Israel as part of the Israel Institute for University Presidents, a joint venture between the United Jewish Communities, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and a community relations council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. (CBC.ca – Feb. 24, 2009)

Following the protest at Carleton, students traveled to the University of Ottawa to join their fellow students to protest the poster ban on their campus. Unfortunately, protesters were not greeted by President Allan Rock and were instead greeted by police officers behind locked doors. For great coverage of the events click HERE.

apartheid-week-poster3The controversy of Carleton and UofO banning Israeli Apartheid Week posters has culminated in a protest planned for this Thursday (Feb. 26) including both campuses. Here’s the info courtesy of OPIRG Carleton:

On Thursday February 26th, join OPIRG-Carleton and students at U of O to show your support for SAIA and SPHR. Come to a public discussion and TWO RALLIES (one after the other) to call the Administrations at Carleton and the U of O to account by asking them to clarify why and how these posters were banned. Show these administrations that civil discourse is dependent upon rights to free expression and organizing, especially around contentious issues.

Date: Thursday February 26th 2009

Time: 11:30 – 1:00pm.

The regular shuttle service leaves Carleton at 1:30pm after the Carleton rally will and arrive at the U of O at 1:50pm. People will gather at the shuttle drop-off location (across from Montpetit) to begin the rally at the U of O. The rally at the U of O will begin in front of the shuttle bus-stop at 2:00pm.

Meeting location at Carleton: C264 Loeb Building

Meeting location at U of O: shuttle bus-stop (across from Monpetit)

Event Description: The rally at Carleton will be mostly silent. People are invited to symbolically cover their mouths. The rally at the University of Ottawa will not be silent. If you have letters (from groups, unions, organizations or individuals) you would like to deliver to the university administrations about the banning of the Israeli Apartheid poster please bring them with you. Both rallies will end at the presidents’ offices.

(more…)

apartheid-week1Following the call for letters of support from Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), the Carleton administration has so far received about 200 messages from students, faculty and community members. The university felt it had to clarify some information for those writing to the university and used what follows in one of their various form letter responses. Below each quote is a ‘further clarification’ courtesy of SAIA Carleton.

“Fact: The university did NOT ban this event.”

This is correct. The University has not banned Israeli Apartheid Week, but we never claimed that they did. This clear attempt to misrepresent our position is simply a “straw man” argument.

It should be noted, however, that many who reacted to the Provost’s veiled e-mail to the Carleton community took derailment or banning of Israeli Apartheid Week at Carleton to be one of the implicit threats in the Provost’s letter. This underlines the dangers inherent in such a vague and threatening letter.

“Fact: The posters removed did not have the necessary approval for posting.”

A limited number of University boards require stamped approval by our student union before postering. All other postering on the University campus is done ad hoc, and no groups obtain approval beforehand. When we approached our student union to get our posters stamped, they sent us to Equity Services who said the poster had been banned. Nevertheless, not only were all of our posters taken down by University security but those on our pre-approved educational tables were summarily confiscated by University security as well. It should be noted that on each of the bulletin boards from which our posters were taken down, one could find dozens of unstamped posters which remained untouched.

(more…)

February 12, 2009

Dear Mr. Hamdullahpur:

I am writing to ascertain the exact meaning of your recent communication to the students of Carleton. I find it very difficult to decipher messages with an abundance of abstract language. Is the emotional and controversial event(s) that you are referring to the upcoming Israeli Apartheid Week of March 1-8? Does your email explicitly mention the potential ramifications of inappropriate behaviour in an attempt to preempt controversial dialogue? I was recently informed that the organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week were not allowed to put posters up on campus. I have seen the poster and think it is within the realm of reason. Was this poster declined due to pressure from other groups on campus?

In particular, what does this passage mean?

“Discrimination, harassment, and intolerance which take the form of inappropriately challenging or questioning a person’s race or beliefs are actions that are contrary to the mission of Carleton University and put in peril the essence of the Canadian university experience.”

Am I to believe that I am not permitted to challenge another person’s beliefs? What is classified as ‘inappropriate?’

If possible, I would like to meet in person to further discuss these issues.

Sincerely,
Dax D’Orazio
Public Affairs Student

February 15, 2009

Dear Dax:

The purpose of my communiqué was to remind everybody the need for respectful and tolerant debate at the university. This was in light of complaints we had received from some students and student groups.

Because these complaints were delivered to the university’s Equity Office in confidence, I am not able to disclose the details or nature of these complaints. However, we are investigating them all as far as we can.

Universities in free and democratic societies like Canada often reflect diverse views of these issues. Carleton University is certainly committed to ensuring that issues are debated freely in a safe and mutually respectful way.

Thank you for raising your concern with me.

Best wishes.

Feridun Hamdullahpur
Provost and Vice President Academic (Interim)
Carleton University

“What follows is the documentation of a deliberate attempt by the UofT administration to prevent a Palestine solidarity conference from being held, the direct involvement of pro-Israel organizations in determining the use of student space and collusion between a number of Ontario universities to prevent the annual Israeli Apartheid Week — a student led week of events about Israeli Apartheid — from taking place. All of the emails referred to in the article are available online.”

Liisa Schofield – Rabble.ca – February 18, 2009

To read the entire article click HERE.

This documentation leaves little doubt for anybody skeptical of the institutional framing of dissent on campuses relating to Palestinian Solidarity. It remains to be seen how universities across Canada and the world will respond to Israeli Apartheid Week this year. Will this act of intrepid investigative journalism provide the impetus for other campus groups to expose their administration’s conscious suppression of student rights? Stay tuned for interviews with Carleton University and B’nai Brith regarding the planning of Israeli Apartheid Week at Carleton University.

For the schedule of events planned in Ottawa check: http://ottawa.apartheidweek.org/

Carleton University Administration violates free expression – bans and confiscates posters
Write to Carleton University president to demand the restoration of student rights

February 18, 2009

On February 8, Students Against Israeli Apartheid at Carleton University put up 100 posters for “Israeli Apartheid Week”, a series of lectures and public events that will occur on campuses in over 40 cities around the world.  On February 9, these posters were taken down at the request of Carleton’s Equity Services, under the rationale that the posters “could be seen to incite others to infringe rights protected in the Ontario Human Rights code” and are “insensitive to the norms of civil discourse in a free and democratic society”

The poster was created by noted cartoonist Carlos Latuff and depicts a situation – a child being killed by aerial bombardment – that occurred over 430 times in Israel’s latest attack on Gaza according to United Nations reports. We encourage everyone to view the poster: here. Since it depicts a situation that has a factual basis and its intention is clearly to invite people to a lecture series, the notion that it is an incitement or a violation to norms of civil discourse is preposterous. (more…)

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