McGill University student newspaper doubles down on antisemitic rhetoric

Editors at the paper described Zionism as 'racist' and 'violent' in their latest polemic.

MCGILL UNIVERSITY campus in Montreal (photo credit: REUTERS)
MCGILL UNIVERSITY campus in Montreal
(photo credit: REUTERS)
One of Canada's largest student newspapers, the McGill Daily, has doubled down on its description of Zionism as "colonial," "racist," and "violent."
In an editorial published this week, the editors of the paper at McGill University in Montreal defended an earlier decision not to print a letter submitted by two Jewish students in defense of Zionism, arguing: “any dialogue that gives a platform to ideas which dehumanize a group of people only serves to amplify those views.”
The letter, penned by law students Michael Aarenau and Josh Shapiro, was prompted by the paper's decision in September to characterize Zionism as “A modern political movement advocating the colonial establishment of a Jewish state in the biblical land of Israel [whose] ideological roots can be traced to the nationalist and European colonial movements of the 19th century."
The definition continued: "Zionism has come to represent a racist attitude and violent practice towards Palestinians that recognizes only Israeli/Jewish hegemony and legitimacy to self-determination in Palestine,” before directing students to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement's website for more details.
In response, Aarenau and Shapiro wrote: "Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people to express their right to self-determination. Nothing more, nothing less.
"[T]he Zionist project, at its core, intends to safeguard the rights of the Jewish people as well as promote equality for all - including the non-Jewish minority that resides there."
Of the referral to the BDS website, they added: "We can’t imagine the Daily ever allowing a mens’ rights organization define feminism, so we can’t help but ask why they believe that those who are inherently opposed to Jewish self-determination get to define it."
However, the editors refused to publish their letter, insisting that by referring to a "non-Jewish minority," Aarenau and Shapiro had fallen foul of the Daily's letters policy, in which the paper reserves the right to reject “any letter whose content displays racial, ethnic, sexual, and socioeconomic prejudice.”
But they were forced to back down after the students approached Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Fabrice Labeau, who ruled that withholding the letter was not conducive to fostering an open exchange of ideas. He ordered the paper to either engage in arbitration, which could lead to the Daily having funding withdrawn, or to print the letter.
Describing this as 'the nuclear option," the editors unwillingly conceded - but used the event as an opportunity to redouble their anti-Zionist rhetoric.
"Herzl legitimized the colonization of Palestine through his racist, colonialist, and Orientalist rhetoric," they thundered in their latest editorial.
Describing non-Jewish Israelis as the 'non-Jewish minority,' they argued: "homogenizes the “non-Jewish” population, erases the lived experiences of Jewish Palestinians, and implies that this “minority” came into being naturally instead of as a result of the forced displacement and ethnic cleansing of more than 80 per cent of the pre-war population in 1948."
They then went on to thank Jewish groups such as Independent Jewish Voices for "dismantling the idea that anti-Zionism is inherently anti-Semitic."
Jewish students account for nearly nine percent of the 40,000 students enrolled at McGill.
Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said “it is not the first time the McGill Daily has targeted the Jewish community with fabricated theories and by fomenting antisemitism. It’s time for the university administration to shake out the newspaper from those who spread hate and intolerance against our community.”