The anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of the past – Jews are plotting to rule the world, Jews control the banks, Jews are agents of calamity and catastrophe –have found new life in the North American university campus.
At the City University of New York, the “Students for Justice in Palestine” club blamed the “Zionist administration” for the high cost of tuition and claimed that the university “aims to produce the next generation of professional Zionists”. If student debt is rising, it logically follows that Israel must be at fault.
A similarly absurd accusation was just made at York University – the Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) club is insisting that a cabal of “pro-Israel racists” are behind a new electronic voting campaign and are plotting to take over student government.
On Monday November 30th, the York Federation of Students (YFS) held its annual general meeting at York University. Students had the opportunity to vote on a motion to implement online voting in future student government elections.
For some background information, the YFS represents 55,000 students and controls a budget of approximately 3.1 million dollars. Many students support online voting as an alternative to the paper ballot system because past YFS elections have had problems with double voting, missing ballots, and undemocratic practices such as poll clerks being hired by the YFS board of director. In other Ontario-area universities, online voting has helped the non-incumbent slate win election.
Needless to say, the merits of online voting vs. paper ballots is an issue that is wholly separate from race, nationality, or religion. To insist otherwise would be ludicrous and irrational. One would scarce expect this ‘disclaimer’ to even have to be mentioned, much less elaborated upon.
Except for the fact that the motion for online voting was submitted by a Jewish student. And wherever there are Jews, the irrationality of anti-Semitism is sure to follow.
Bereft of any facts and armed with a paranoid tendency to see the malign influence of Jews in every event, the online voting motion was promptly characterized as “racist” and “extremist” by Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA). SAIA is a York University group which is notorious for its radicalism, its vandalism of school property with anti-Israel signage, and its promotion of terrorist propaganda on social media. The group has previously praised Rasmea Odeh, murderer of two Israeli students.
Multiple “Vote no for electronic voting” events sprang up on Facebook. In each “vote no” event, one prominent SAIA executive used the student’s identity as a Jew to criticize the online voting campaign. The Jewish student was slandered as a racist and as an apartheid supporter. The definitive “proof” for these libellous accusations was that the student is a member of Hillel.
This incident is part of a disturbing pattern of Jewish students having their religion being used as innate evidence of ill intent or impartiality. Last February, a Jewish student at UC Los Angeles found that her religion was being discussed as a reason to reject her from a position on student government. This November, a Jewish student at UC Santa Cruz was warned to abstain from voting on a pro-BDS motion because he is the president of the school’s Jewish student union.
At York University, non-Jewish students who supported the e-vote motion were also defamed as “racists” by association and were accused of “collaborating” with the Jewish student in other pro-Israel activities.
“You won’t be happy until your racist friends take over the YFS. It’s that simple. It’s not like I’m the only one here who sees the trends.”
“Everybody knows this is a pro-Israel push to take over the union. The Israel lobby isn’t even quiet about it. You can’t even address the murderous extremism in your circles”.
“Racist pro-Israel students throw their backing behind every opposition in their desperate attempt to smash the social justice activists in the YFS”
“I’ve pointed out your ties with pro-Israel racists and extremists, which you do possess. That, in itself, says a lot about your utterly despicable values and what you stand for”
“Your collaboration with extremists and right-wing conservatives are more than enough for all of us to see what kind of union (or should I say government) would emerge from the work that you do and the way you go about doing it”
These accusations make it harder and harder to insist that there is a impermeable line between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
Whether it’s accusing Jews of plotting to take over the world or just plotting “to take over the York Federation of Students”, whether it’s accusing Jews of murdering children for religious rites or just being “murderous extremists”, whether it’s characterizing Jewish values as satanic or just “utterly despicable” , it’s clear that the intent is the same.
This was contributed by York University CAMERA Fellow Danielle Shachar. Danielle is Vice President of York University’s Emet for Israel group, York Students for Israel.