February 2009

Türkkaya Ataöv - Genocide denial?

Türkkaya Ataöv - Genocide denial?

McGill University in Montreal has apparently allowed an Armenian Genocide denier a platform from which to speak. No debate was organized, and Türkkaya Ataöv was not challenged on his views of history, including—according to witness accounts below—his take on the Nazis not getting a “fair trial.” When Armenian students asked questions in the face of Mr Ataöv’s revisionist telling of Turkey’s 1915 genocide of 1.5 million Armenians, they were shouted down by Turkish audience members, according to witnesses. This event raises important questions about academic freedom and freedom of speech – should the campus and academia be a place where someone is given platform to rewrite history in the face of international opposition, especially when that rewriting is denying the loss of so many lives? If this is part of academic freedom, should we as students, teachers and academics, demand a platform that instills debate over one-sided speech? Food for thought…

From the Armen Karo Student Association

397 Boul. des Prairies
Laval, Quebec
H7N 2W6
Tel: 450-505-1032
E-mail: armen.karo@gmail.com
Contact: Kevork Kazanjian

There is No Room in Canada for Genocide Deniers

Feb 26, 2009

Montreal – On Friday the 20th of  February 2009, McGill University decided that its campus was an appropriate stage, from which the known Turkish denialist Türkkaya Ataöv could spread the fabrications, omissions and factoids of official Ankara, that aim to question the veracity of the  Armenian Genocide of 1915, during which 1.5 million Armenians were massacred by the premeditated measures of the Turkish Ittihadist Government. Thus was set the precedent of any other history revisionist and Genocide denialist to find a podium in academia, in the name of “freedom of speech”. Apparently, this principle outweighed the lost lives of millions of innocent victims and their unspeakable suffering in the minds of the decision-makers of McGill.


Robert Fisk - Middle East Correspondent of The Independent (UK)

Robert Fisk - Middle East Correspondent of The Independent (UK)

Robert Fisk spoke at the University of Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 21. During his talk he made specific mention of the horrible state of Canadian media in covering the Middle East and specifically the Israel – Palestine conflict. Chronicling the Globe and Mail and National Post he wondered how such embarrassing editorials are passed on as journalism. I’m sure this latest gem from the National Post would have been included in his discussion if it had come out earlier.

National Post – February 23, 2009

George Burger: Anti-Semitism and its enablers

Anti-Semitism is a belief. It happens to be the repugnant belief, that Jews are inferior, deserving of hatred. Repugnant beliefs these days typically gain little currency, little purchase because of the general aversion that we civilized folks have for beliefs which discriminate. Like a germ a repugnant belief can only replicate, expand, grow, poison the body, if it has the right environment, is nourished, or is not halted by external forces like medicine, swiftly applied. A germ needs neglect to flourish; to neglect it is to enable its growth. It is critical to deconstruct the interplay between anti-semitism and its enablers, because a failure to do so will let it grow to unmanageable proportions, and poison us all again.

In the immediate context, without going beyond Canada’s borders, there are literal correlatives to the words “anit-semitism or anti-semite” and “enablers”. Here are some examples.

1. Syd Ryan is an anti-Semite. There is no point any longer in attributing benign motives to the positions he has taken. The rigid double standard he imposes on Israel, the passion he brings to his cause, to the exclusion of many other far more violent and egregiously one-sided conflicts, and his willful ignorance of the history of the conflict between Israel and its neighbours, not to mention the immediate circumstances of the targeting of the university in Gaza that so offended him (it was also a rocket manufacturing base, whose professors were dedicated to building more deadly missiles) defines him as an anti-Semite.


Many have pointed out the irony. The cartoon depiction of violence in Gaza is deemed repulsive by university administrations, yet the actual act of violence (which killed more than 400 Palestinian children) elicits a deafening silence in the same university administrations (despite pressure from student groups and faculty). Is this representation alienating apathetic or uninformed observers? Or is it apt and justified?

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.


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.


 Avi Benlolo  President & Chief Executive Officer Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies

Avi Benlolo President & Chief Executive Officer Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies

From the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, another communiqué equating Israeli Apartheid Week with racism and hate (sent in January, 2009):

Campus Affairs Committee

As some already know, there is a climate of hate permeating Canadian universities and now more than ever, it is targeting Jewish students, especially in Toronto.  Yearly events such as Week Against the Wall and Israeli Apartheid Week not only threaten Jewish students but spread intolerable propaganda throughout university communities.

The newly formed FSWC Campus Affairs Committee has decided to act in defence
of these students and in defence of truth.

The Committee will work proactively towards the following three objectives:
1.      Expose the culture of hate and intolerance on university campuses;
2.      Initiate direct campaigns of protest to university administrations;
3.      End Week Against the Wall and Israeli Apartheid Week

We would like to thank our co-chairs for the Committee, Alan Lechem and Oded
Orgil for their commitment to this project, we look very forward to working
with them on this initiative! If you are interested in getting involved with the Campus Affairs Committee,
or if you would like to participate in the first meeting, please RSVP to Bailey at bkoplowitz@fswc.ca

Copyright (c) Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies

You can watch a video version of the position of the FSWC on what B’nai Brith has called “hate-fests” (Israeli Apartheid Week events) on Canadian campuses. The video is quite inflammatory and inacurate, and is on the front page of the FSWC site.

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.

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

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