Students at a Canadian university recently voted to kick out the only Jewish representative from their student government board of directors earlier this week, after he was claimed to be unfit for the position as per his active role in the Jewish community.
Noah Lew is among the dozen board members of the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) who were to be ratified in a single, block vote conducted on Monday night at a general assembly meeting, a process that usually is considered a formal obligation.
After the members of SSMU, who have been identified as the leaders in the campus pro-boycott, divestment, and other sanctions movement, successfully demanded that each of the director instead be ratified individually, and hence Lew was voted out 105 to 73, with 12 abstaining to vote.
Two of the other directors who had been vocally anti-BDS, Josephine Wright O’Manique, and Alexander Scheffel, were also removed from their positions.
The action was taken right after the Democratize SSMU, an ad hoc group decided to resist a decision ratified at the start of this semester that a pro-boycott resolution was considered discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional, and had waged a campaign specifically targeting Lew.
In a social media post that is now deleted, but re-published by a Jewish blogger, Democratize SSMU wrote that the affiliation of Lew and two other Jewish representatives with the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC), which is pro-Israel too, presented its “conflicts of interest.” They represented the nexus of political power and corruption that had brought down their boycott efforts, wrote the group in that post.
Later the Democratize SSMU wrote that they “apologize unreservedly for the harm that was done through some of our campaign material,” further adding that the original post was “insensitive to anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish people as corrupt and politically powerful.”
The SSMU President Muna Tojiboeva wrote on Wednesday that she is “shocked to see such a blatant expression of anti-Semitism” from the general assembly of SSMU.
McGill Principal and Vice Chancellor Suzanne Fortier also announced in an email to the university community that an investigation has been launched immediately into the incident, and a task force is also appointed “to examine more broadly such matters and to make recommendations on how to ensure that our values and principles of academic freedom, integrity, responsibility, equity and inclusiveness are respected.”
David Naftulin, a Jewish student who had attended Monday’s meeting, further added to the incident saying that it is part of a much larger problem.
“When progressives hear historically oppressed people speaking in a relatively unified voice and telling them something is discriminatory, they are usually very receptive. They work hard to face and fix the problem,” he said. “But not with Jews. No, we have to explain and prove why we think something is anti-Semitic.”
The Lew incident “might be the wake-up call for McGill and the broader Canadian university community,” said Naftulin.
“But, we’ve said that before and nothing really seems to have changed,” he further added.
Lew, who remains a student government vice president, wrote in his own Facebook post that while the ordeal has been “incredibly upsetting” and “horrible,” he is happy that “the discriminatory agenda of BDS McGill that has been swept under the rug for years is finally out in the open.” He added, “Time and time again, we have heard the phrase ‘BDS is not anti-Semitic.'”