Dear editor of Pro Tem at Glendon,
The first page and headline news of your last editorial (March 9th) pertains to the mural controversy at Keele campus and contains significant points that are highly offensive and un-inclusive towards the Jewish and Israeli students at Glendon. As President of Hillel on campus for the past 3 years, I have always admired the inclusive and tolerant community at Glendon. Whenever the Jewish community has been excluded, the Glendon family has made sure to rectify any mistakes made. It has been a hub for peaceful discussion and open communication, free of political agendas. On Campus, Hillel has a reputation of never spreading hate speech or intolerant behavior; we promote and spread love of our faith and country. the Jewish community and I, along with many others, on campus were shocked by the lack of sensitivity in the article Free Speech is not for Sale.
Natasha Goel, the author of the article, writes as follows: “This student’s artistic interpretation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was described by Paul Bronfman as “anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-Canadian. If any of these terms accurately describe this students artwork, I would join the call for it’s removal.” The problem is that Miss Goel failed to acknowledge that the Palestinian Roots painting features a Palestinian man wearing a scarf with a photo of the entirety of Israel under a Palestinian flag, promoting the idea that the land belongs exclusively to Palestinians and must be freed of Israelis, as said in a famous hate slogan: “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
The most distasteful part of the artwork is the incitement of violence and specifically of Intifada. To clarify, an intifada is not a non-violent peaceful uprising. Intifadas are comprised of constant terror attacks such as shootings, rocket launches, bombings and stabbings against Israelis civilians. They have resulted in over 8,000 wounded and 1,000 Israeli lives claimed. The man in the painting is holding rocks that are typically thrown during an Intifada. Many Israelis have died from Palestinian rock throwing, including Asher Palmer and his infant son, Yonatan in 2011. The painting, incites violence against Israelis and negates the Jewish People’s self-determination. If that isn’t anti-Semitic and anti- Canadian, I don’t know what is.
Natasha moves on to write that Mr. Bronfman, with his “intolerance”, creates divisions in our community. How ironic, when her article- being one of the rare politicized biased articles written at Glendon- is a prime example of dividing a campus community who prides itself on open communication and respect.
The author explains that due to the painting Palestinian Roots in the student centre a York university, Paul Bronfman, investor at Yorku, has withdrawn his money from York, after deeming the painting “anti-Semitic”. Natasha writes, “In what can only be described as an act of blackmail, Mr Bronfman threatened to withdraw his company’s substantial support for the Cinema and Media if a student painting ‘Palestinian Roots’ was not removed from the student centre…”
Blackmail. In an article whose main premise and argument is the right to free speech, Mr. Brofman’s free speech, however is attached with a negative connotation and deemed outrageous. Ironic.
I could go on and on at the insensitivities written by Goel, but I believe I have made myself clear. We all have a right to free speech, however free speech should be exercised with respect and sensitivity. As president of Glendon Hillel and therefore representative of the Jewish people and Israel on campus, I urge her to think twice about promoting a hateful and insensitive painting. Let’s be better than the main campus at Keele and eradicate hate and intolerance from our vocabulary.