A group of lawyers and activists, led by Arsen Ostrovsky, CEO, and Nadav Steinman, Chairman, of the International Legal Forum (ILF), have called on Mt. Royal University to revoke the Calgary Peace Prize to Mohammed El-Kurd, a Palestinian poet, writer, and activist.
El-Kurd is best known for his role in the #SaveSheikhJarrah movement, which protested the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in east Jerusalem. El-Kurd has also been a vocal critic of Israel's "occupation" of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
He has been accused of antisemitism by some critics, who point to his use of antisemitic tropes and his praise for Palestinian terrorists. However, El-Kurd has denied these accusations, saying that he is simply fighting for the rights of the Palestinian people.
The ILF's letter to the university's chancellor cites a number of examples of El-Kurd's alleged antisemitic statements, including calling Zionists "sadistic barbaric neonazi pigs" and saying that Israelis "have completely internalized the ways of the Nazis."
The ILF also points to El-Kurd's recent social media posts, in which he praised the Palestinian terrorists who murdered three Israeli women in the Jordan Valley last month.
"In view of the fact the Calgary Peace Prize is awarded under the auspices of the Mt. Royal University, we call on the University leadership to immediately revoke the awarding of this honor to Mr. El-Kurd, and disassociate itself from the prize," the letter said.
The Calgary Jewish Federation reacted and said in a statement that "We are aware that Mohammed El-Kurd is set to receive a 'Peace Prize' listed under the Peace Studies Initiative at Mount Royal University. The prize is promoted by its selection committee to recognize outstanding individuals from the global community whose work has made the world a safer and less violent place. El-Kurd is a promoter of virulent antisemitism and condoned violence targeting Jews – he is clearly and wholly unfit for such an award. We are in direct contact with Mount Royal University administration and we continue to make our position very clear."
Mt. Royal University has not yet responded to the ILF's letter.
Antisemitism on Canadian campuses
The controversy over the Calgary Peace Prize to El-Kurd is the latest in a series of high-profile incidents involving antisemitism on Canadian campuses.
In recent years, there have been a number of reports of antisemitic incidents at universities across Canada, including swastikas being painted on campus buildings, Jewish students being harassed and assaulted, and antisemitic speakers being invited to speak on campus.