Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt condemned McGill University’s student government for telling one of its members to cancel an upcoming trip to Israel or step down from her position.
Councilor Jordyn Wright, a Jewish student, previously accepted Hillel Montreal’s invitation to attend a free trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories at the end of December. During the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council meeting on Nov. 28, Council President Bryan Buraga said that Wright’s decision was an “apparent conflict of interest.” The council called for Wright to resign if she moves forward with the trip or to be removed from office if she refuses to resign.
Wright has refused to step down or cancel her trip. In a Nov. 29 Facebook post, she said there was a non-Jewish councilor also taking part in the trip, but the council isn’t targeting him.
“There is a double standard for anything that involves Israel at McGill. In this case, controversy surrounding my participation in Hillel Montreal’s trip resulted in a publicly humiliating witch-hunt, repeated interrogations of my personal life, and me being placed under an intensely unfair microscope,” Wright wrote. She added that the SSMU adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism in 2018, and “by scrutinizing only me for participating in a trip to Israel, SSMU is engaging in this kind of anti-Semitism by assuming I have to be held accountable for what the Israeli government is doing.”
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted on Dec. 2, “ADL stands with @mcgillu student Jordyn Wright who is being harassed for her decision to visit Israel. There is no ‘conflict of interest;’ this is #antiSemitism. Academic institutions have a duty to protect their students from political bias and @mcgillu must do so here.”
Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “McGill is beginning to sound like Moscow University during Stalin-era, not in a leading democracy. Where’s the avalanche of support for a student targeted with horrific anti-Semitic bullying?”
StandWithUs Canada Executive Director Meryle Kates similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “We are shocked yet again by the blatantly anti-Semitic stance of the SSMU. Singling out one Jewish student for wanting to visit the one Jewish country in the world can only be characterized as bigotry. It’s long past time to end the discrimination against Jewish and pro-Israel students at McGill by this union.”
Maccabee Task Force Executive Director David Brog, whose organization is funding the trip, said in a statement to the Journal, “Israel is central to Jewish identity and is becoming increasingly central to campus political debates. That’s why we’re proud to offer students the opportunity to go to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to learn about this situation for themselves. Anyone who seeks to punish a Jew for accepting an opportunity to visit his/her ancestral homeland is engaging in clear anti-Semitism. And anyone who seeks to block non-Jews from joining this voyage of discovery is engaging in pure censorship.”
McGill University Deputy Provost of Student Life and Learning Fabrice Labeau wrote in an email to university staff and students that the university is concerned about the vote, noting that the board of directors had already determined that student leaders going on the trip did not constitute a conflict of interest.
“The decision made by the SSMU Legislative Council is contrary to the university’s values of diversity, inclusion and respect,” Labeau wrote. “Furthermore, it appears to diverge from SSMU’s own constitution and it represents a serious breach of trust. For that reason, we call upon the Board of Directors to seriously consider the concerns raised by the students and take proper actions.”
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