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.

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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.

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 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.

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…)

Controversial Campus Poster

Controversial Campus Poster

The poster to the left is the one that has been causing all the controversy at Carleton University lately, with the administration reportedly having it removed from campus. Later today we’ll have a report from a student who scheduled a meeting with the Provost over the poster, so look here for the “official” story then. For now, here’s my two cents on this poster.

Latuff’s cartoon of an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) helicopter firing a rocket as an unarmed Gazan civilian child holding a teddy bear is a cartoon-rendering of reality for the life of people in Gaza, especially in light of the recent brutal attack on the area. Many know the numbers: nearly 1400 Palestinians killed, over half civilian, the majority of those women and children. Fourteen Israelis were killed, four by their own misconduct. As well, it is well documented by Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights groups that the levels of force measured between rock-throwing Palestinian civilians and the IDF’s US-funded military machine are anything but equal. Yes, Hamas and other militant groups conduct suicide bombings and rocketing that target Israeli civilians. But the death and destruction of Palestinian land and people far exceeds that of Israel, many including Finkelstein, citing it at a ten-to-one ratio.

So this poster is an accurate representation of the political and conflictual realities of the two sides, with the IDF and military might on one side and the death of unarmed Palestinian civilians on the other. That said, I don’t feel it’s a very sophisticated representation, and its incindiary tone may do more to distract than attract to the activities of Israel Apartheid Week. The use of children to play on knee-jerk emotional response is ubiquitous on both sides of the conflict. However, representations that accurately portray the enormouse inequity of the conflict and that show a Palestinian civilian population imprisoned by walls (as the poster does) are important visual signifiers of the ongoing calculated destruction of the Palestinian culture by the Israeli government.

The poster should stay up, even though it may hurt feelings and cause offense in some in the campus community. It clearly targets the Israeli government and the IDF – the agents of the destruction and illegal occupation of Palestine, not Israeli and/or Jewish people.