An open letter to the President of York University about Jew-Hatred at York and the upcoming “Israel Apartheid Week”


This past week, a peaceful Jewish organization called Herut Canada presented an event at York University, where some veterans of military service in Israel, including two women and an Arab, talked about Israel and its steps to maintain basic freedoms and an ethical army, unheard of in the surrounding hostile Arab totalitarian regimes.

This type of free expression, so long treasured in Canada, is being made difficult if not impossible, by violent intimidation and shouting down, by Islamist and Leftist students. In this letter I wish to make clear how York University has promoted the intimidation and violent censorship of Jewish voices at York.

In February, you will continue the travesty of allowing an anti-Semitic hatefest called "Israel Apartheid Week" to take place on your campus.

You as President of York have been quoted as saying:

"I want to emphasize in the strongest possible terms that acts of violence are not tolerated on our campuses and York University has zero tolerance for hate," (my emphasis).

I commend you for saying that "shouting, threats of violence and attempts to intimidate community members are not consistent with the responsibilities we all share." However, let's examine whether you have really shown "zero tolerance for hate".

Some attendees who brought Israeli flags to welcome the speakers, had them ripped out of their hands. The violent protesters made their hatred clear by the words used in their chants. One horrible chant repeated over and over again, was "Viva viva Intifada". The Intifada was a terrorist enterprise, instituted after Israel tried to engage the so-called Palestinians (a name not adopted by certain Arabs till 1967) in peace talks in accordance with the Oslo Process. It featured suicide bombings to kill the maximum number of Israeli civilians, including the use of children having bombs strapped to their bodies. The parents who did this, were given great honours including the receipt of lifetime pensions.

The other main shout was "Palestine from the river to the sea", making clear that the shouters wanted to replace the Jewish homeland with an Arab state, which would in all likelihood involve the murder, in a type of Second Holocaust of another 6 million Jews. Iran has now placed, by its proxy groups Hamas and Hezbollah, over 150,000 missiles being used already from the north and from the southwest. Iran has repeatedly stated that it wants to acquire nuclear weapons and when it does, it will use them first against the Jewish state. In this context, such incitement is dangerous indeed.

A coalition of Islamist student groups and radical Leftists some years ago came up with the brilliant idea of creating an Israel Apartheid Week. No matter that "Apartheid" is a completely inappropriate term when applied to Israeli matters. Gender apartheid, religious apartheid, sexual orientation apartheid are of course attributes of Arab or Islamist governments, not Israel. We all know that often the bigger the lie, the more easily it is believed.

George Orwell wrote: "if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought". He could have been talking about York University's complicity in allowing the word "Apartheid", so clearly inapplicable to Israel, to corrupt the thought of thousands of students who likely have no detailed knowledge of history and international law. Using a false term to corrupt thought is a form of hate towards Jewish people and our Homeland for thousands of years, Israel. Why does York University, contrary to its President's declaration, welcome such hate on its campus?

Israel had to put up a big wall separating some Arab towns from the rest of Israel, but that of course was the result of two years of suicide bombing by Arab young people walking across where there was no wall, killing women and children, and remembered by their proud parents (who get a lifetime pension), and promised "72 Virgins in Heaven". So that wall is not symptomatic of Apartheid, but just is a security barrier which has vastly decreased the number of suicide bombings. Imagine being hated for protecting your citizens with a wall that you never wanted to build, but which was forced upon you.

Then, there is the allegation that Israel is guilty of Apartheid because Jews can automatically move to Israel and acquire citizenship but the millions of Arabs who want to come and turn Israel into more Muslim territory cannot. Never mind that there are 22 Arab countries and never mind that the Jews, probably the most persecuted people in history, and who lived historically in Israel, need to have a safe haven, thanks to the very types of intellectuals, religious figures and professors who are leading the charge against Jewish rights today. Israel is one of the smallest countries with some 8.7 million people when the total area is 22,145 (8,630 sq. miles), of which 21,671 sq. km is land area. Israel is some 420 km in length and about 115 km across at the widest point.

And the Arab Muslims who do already live in Israel, although given full rights to vote and otherwise participate in this liberal democracy (and who in polls always say that they would prefer to remain in the Jewish state rather than move to any illiberal Muslim states surrounding Israel), do not in return serve in the Israeli army. One would think that if more Muslims want to live in Israel they should first accept the normal obligations of citizenship.

Thanks to Noam Chomsky and a handful of self-hating Jews like the failed academic Norman Finkelstein, words today are unashamedly bastardized to stand for the opposite of what they should mean. I would suggest to you that every student before graduation should be required to read George Orwell's brilliant expose of totalitarianism, 1984. I wonder if you, with a background in sociology, women's studies and family violence, have read it. It features quotes from the fictional state in the book, which dictates to its denizens:

"War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength."

I allege that you have allowed students and non-students to brainwash your students with a similar trick, where "Liberal freedoms are Apartheid."

Orwell writes also of the leaders of his fictional totalitarian state remarking: "It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words."

I allege that by allowing a hate-fest with an explicit lie in the title of the event, you are allowing "the destruction of words" as well as the brainwashing of students. Again, I suggest Orwell becomes required reading for every student in every department in these days where a Leftist-Islamist alliance is distorting our history of liberal freedoms and democracy to achieve a power to remove our constitutional protections and our rule of law to permit alien systems of justice.

Palestinians and their leftist supporters continue to make allegations that are untrue and that have been well studied and proven to be untrue: for example, the allegations that Arabs cannot buy land in Israel, that there was a massacre of Palestinian civilians in Jenin, and the various staged videos that are fictional attempts to show Israel attacking civilians, when Israel goes further than any other country when it comes to avoiding civilian casualties, even to the point of jeopardizing the lives of their own soldiers.

Some years ago, I realized that the very first Israel Apartheid Week (it has now spread to more than 60 campuses) took place at my alma mater, the University of Toronto. I checked on the internet, and I saw that Dr. David Naylor, the University of Toronto President, was defending his university's hosting of this event, by citing freedom of expression and respect for diversity. This was not only offensive to me, but I thought this was puerile (even accounting for the fact that Naylor's background is in science and medicine rather than the social sciences or the humanities.) I wrote a protest letter that the issue was academic standards, not freedom of expression. I argued that the university would hardly agree to host a conference claiming that all professors are fascists and the reason for that would not be restricting freedom of expression but restricting the university's facilities to those whose agenda met certain standards of intellectual honesty, fairness and respect. Alas, it was not a dialogue he wished to enter. Naylor came from the Faculty of Medicine and perhaps was uneducated in these matters, but you come from Sociology and should therefore be educated in the dangers of totalitarian group think. Moreover, since the time I wrote to Naylor, the threats to the Jewish people world-wide have unfortunately increased dramatically.

President Naylor was later quoted as arguing that "universities have a unique role to provide a safe venue for highly charged discourse". That is to say that academics are so far removed from the real world that they actually believe that "highly charged discourse" without foundation in fact or cogent argument based entirely on anti-Semitism, is insulated from the type of standards imposed on other speech by academic institutions.

It is strange to label Israel "Apartheid" when:

  • Omar Barghouti, a leading advocate of boycotting Israel and a resident of Ramallah is also a graduate, with a M.A, from Tel Aviv University, and apparently he is studying there for a Ph.D.
  • Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported in January of 2018 that Arab Israeli participation in higher education increased 79% in 7 years, The University of Haifa had the largest proportion of Israeli Arab students at 41.1%, followed by 22.2% at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, one of the world's great computer science and engineering universities. And yes, they attend the same classes and use the same washrooms.
  • Arabs vote and have representation in the Israeli parliament. The Joint List, an Arab party has 12 seats out of 120 seats in the Knesset parliament. There are Arab Israeli diplomats and an Arab member of the Israeli Supreme Court.
  • An Israeli Arab served as captain of the HaPoel Tel Aviv soccer team.
  • Tens of thousands of Black Jews from Ethiopia and Brown Jews from India have all been welcomed into Israel.
  • An Arab Israeli young woman singer represented Israel at the 2009 Eurovision song contest.
  • Rona Raslan, an Arab, is the former "Miss Israel".
  • Druse Arabs (who support the state of Israel) have served as ambassadors, army officers, even as Deputy Prime Minister.

Thousands of non-Jewish black African refugees make a long trek through Egypt on foot and try to immigrate to the Jewish state because they would rather live there than in Africa.

9. There are discriminatory laws against Palestinians in Lebanon and Jordan and few Israeli Arabs would want to trade Israeli citizenship for Jordanian or Egyptian.

10. The Palestinian Authority has said that any Arabs who sell land to Jews should be put to death, (and have in fact put some to death), but when a far-right wing Israeli Rabbi told his followers not to sell land to Arabs, there was a national outcry and wave of condemnation against him.

11. Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority has said that no Israeli Jew should be allowed to live in a future Palestinian State on the West Bank, but he will not sign a peace treaty unless Israel accepts about a million Palestinians.

As I walk through Ontario cities with university campuses in early March of each year, I definitely feel the cold chill of Israel Apartheid Week and I believe it is really Jew-Hatred Week. Are we in Canada and the U.S. far off from the situation in France and some other European countries where it is unsafe for identifiable Jews to walk near Muslim neighbourhoods?

Statistics from Europe where Muslim migrants, especially unmarried young men have migrated show tragic increases in rape statistics as these young men were raised in Arab countries, where, in many, a "culture of rape" exists, especially in regard to non-Muslim women or Muslim women who do not wear modest clothing and are therefore deemed to be asking for rape! I don't see too many events at universities dealing with this sad situation, or the genocide of Yzedis in Iraq and Syria and the genocide against Christians in various Muslim countries. Please think about why your university seems obsessed with fictional Jewish crimes rather than real Islamist crimes. (Islamists and Islamism refer to radical Muslims whe seek Sharia Law wherever they settle, which law is inimical to the rights of women, gays and minorities, and who seek a world-wide Caliphate, and does not refer to Muslims who agree that our Canadian laws and values will be accepted and promoted to their children as part of citizenship.)

President Lenton, please do the right thing and remove the right of the organizers of the so-called "Israel Apartheid Week" to gather in your university facilities and tell them to go elsewhere if they want to falsely use the word, "Apartheid". Such a policy would not constitute a threat to freedom of expression. They can go elsewhere. You could rule that the standards of your university require truthfulness and integrity in the title of the event.

I support the rights of these organizers to hold a conference discussing Arab and Israeli policies in the Middle East, but not when it is called "Israel Apartheid Week" and it is welcomed to your university with the use of the fake word "Apartheid". That constitutes a lie to show that the Jews are guilty of the same policies of racial separation used in South African Apartheid and therefore must be an evil people deserving of such taunts as "Viva, viva Intifada" and violence and intimidation which does not exist for any other group. Please do the right thing.

Howard Rotberg

Mantua Books Ltd./Rotberg Development Group

Howard Rotberg is the author of four books - The Second Catastrophe: A Novel About a Book and its Author; Exploring Vancouverism: The Political Culture of Canada's Lotus Land; Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed; and The Ideological Path to Submission... and what we can do about it. He is the founding president of Mantua Books, Canada's sole conservative values and pro-Israel publishing house, He also practiced law for 20 years and was the developer of various affordable housing complexes in vacant heritage buildings for low income working people especially single women working in minimum wage jobs. He resides near Hamilton Ontario.