Matt Render | Contributor
Featured image courtesy of Jordan Chu, Photo/Video Editor
I hear a lot of apologizing today. A lot of people are made to feel ashamed of themselves and their identities. A lot of people who are being silenced based not on what they say, but who they are. I’ve seen people who accept the role assigned to them as some sort of enemy based on what they look like or what they believe in. People who apologize for their own existence. I’m not one of those people. I do not apologize for being white. I do not apologize for having red hair, either. And I surely won’t apologize for being Jewish. I’d like to emphasize that last point. I will neither apologize for being Jewish, nor will I remain silent while the cloud of anti-Semitism looms darker by the day.
Instead of listing off the daily news events in the Jewish world, from the ongoing anti-Semitic attacks that have gone rampant in France, England, and throughout North America, I will single out two Canadian events. They speak to a larger issue that is at hand. These are not isolated incidents. They are indicative of the current political climate in Canada, and surely in other parts of the world as well. These are not the exception, but rather, the new normal.
Instead of generating intellectual discourse, university campuses have become a breeding ground for hatred and thought control. At McGill University, it has been outlawed by the school newspaper to publish any pro-Zionist content whatsoever. This has been passed and enforced under the guise that any pro-Zionist speech is “hate speech.”
Forget the fact that I’m writing this as a Jew. This is a university we’re talking about here. A university that has effectively silenced an entire group of people. I don’t care who you are or what you stand for, that is anti-democratic. How that could ever pass is beyond my imagination, but I will venture to explain it this way: hating Israel (and Jews by default) is not just trendy, it is now politically correct.
If you are confused as to why Jews were included in that equation, you shouldn’t be. It’s simple math, really. If people hate Israel, believing it to be an evil, apartheid state, without the right to exist, and Israel is the homeland for Jewish people, is it a big intellectual leap to say those same people who hate Israel probably hate the Jews? That, coupled with the statistically most violent last couple of years in the history North American Jewry and the rise of anti-Zionist activist groups may help to elucidate the point a little clearer. If Israel is the enemy, then so are the Jews.
Let’s be clear: the point isn’t to say anyone can’t disagree with Israel (or Judaism for that matter). Go right ahead and disagree. But, don’t forcefully break up a lecture being given by a veteran of the Israeli army while hurling anti-Semitic slogans and death threats under the guise of “social justice.” Here, I am referring to the incident on York’s campus where a pro-Israel group had their event shut down by a protest from Students Against Israeli Apartheid which quickly resulted in violence, anti-Semitic slogans, and death threats.
If this is what’s going on in our universities today, and if students are being bullied, belittled and denied their own voice, then the future is looking pretty bleak. Censorship and physical violence have no place in any democratic institution.
This has nothing to do with me being Jewish. This has nothing to do with me being pro-Israel. This is about hatred. No group deserves to be bullied into silence. No group deserves violence against them.
I don’t care what group you belong to or what you think you stand for. I stand for what’s right. I stand for the truth. If that makes me the enemy, then so be it. I will not apologize for that.