Source: La Riposte Socialiste

An offensive is underway on Montreal campuses to slander, provoke, and smear activists who oppose Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

We wish to denounce these attempts by university administrations, capitalist politicians, and the media to attack the Palestinian solidarity movement in this way. We invite student associations, student unions, and anyone defending the cause of the oppressed to do the same.

Provocation at Concordia

The main event to hit the headlines was a brawl at Concordia on Wednesday, Nov. 8th. What happened?

The Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights Concordia group had announced several days in advance a keffiyeh (the Palestinian scarf) sale on campus to raise funds for humanitarian aid in Gaza. The sale attracted at least a hundred people. During the sale, out of nowhere, Zionist activists from the Hillel group also set up their table. They were there with posters and placards, obviously ready for a demonstration. Naturally, none of the media reported this context, ignoring an obvious provocation by the Zionists.

It was because of this deliberate provocation that tensions rose. Security intervened, surrounding the Zionists who were vastly outnumbered. One of them deliberately tried to provoke the pro-Palestinian activists, even making a young Arab woman cry. Some mocked the fact that Gazans have no food or water. Again, no one in the media mentioned this. Tension mounted, and a scuffle ensued. The event turned into a small rally, with students shouting “Free free Palestine” at the top of their voices.

That was all it took for the media and politicians to jump on the story and distort it.

Ignoring the provocation of Zionist students, the media and politicians lumped the altercation in with recent acts of anti-Semitism, for example, Mayor Valérie Plante:

Even more blatantly, Marc Miller, Liberal Federal MP, presented the facts in a totally one-sided way, denouncing the “violent targeting of Jewish students at Concordia”:

The publication shared by Miller, an eight-second video, falsely presents an activist as hurling an anti-Jewish insult (“k*ke”). This person explained that they had never heard this word before the controversy, and that they were calling a person who was threatening them with sexual violence a “cunt.” No one in the mainstream media or among politicians seems to be interested in this more complete version of events.

CTV News, for its part, presents the whole thing as if the pro-Israel students were there first, and the pro-Palestinian activists attacked them for no reason. The Journal de Montréal quotes one person calling the event “a hate rally against Jewish students.” The National Post refers to violent “anti-Israel crowds.”

These methods are not new. It’s all about portraying the Palestine solidarity movement as full of hatred, violence, and anti-Semitism.

McGill and UQAM

At McGill, the SPHR McGill group was one of the first to be attacked on a Canadian campus in early October. The administration added another layer this week.

The McGill principal and vice-rector sent an email to all students denouncing a poster shared by SPHR McGill promoting a demonstration for Gaza. The poster is described as “anti-Semitic” because it shows a demonstration in which people are breaking windows! The principal also insinuated that Palestinian activists had deliberately shared the poster around the anniversary of an infamous anti-Semitic Nazi pogrom in 1938, the “Kristallnacht.” These slanders are naturally picked up by our national rag, the Journal de Montréal. Notably, McGill’s Independent Jewish Voices denounced this frankly stupid and absurd statement.

At UQAM, the rector wrote to students denouncing allegedly anti-Semitic “hate leaflets” distributed on campus. Yet the only quotes from the leaflet accuse the rector and a professor of failing to denounce genocide and ethnic cleansing in Palestine. Another quote highlights the riot against Netanyahu—the current butcher of Gaza—in Montreal in 2002, and the need to fight Israel’s military-industrial complex. What could this possibly have to do with anti-Semitism?

These mysterious flyers were the subject of a completely dishonest article in the Journal de Montréal. The journalist, who admits not having seen the flyer, asserts without proof that their anti-Semitic character “lies in the way they were distributed,” supposedly to teachers with “Jewish-sounding” names. We spoke to one person who claims to have distributed them under every door, not targeting anyone in particular. This claim of anti-Semitism is based on nothing at all.

These two examples are remarkably stupid. Having been unable to say anything about the solidarity movement that has been growing for weeks, these university administrations and their friends have no choice but to make a mountain out of nothing.

The propagandistic role of the media under capitalism has never been more clear than right now. They give the most minimal coverage possible to the tens of thousands of people who demonstrate every week in Montreal. But as soon as they get the chance to portray the activists as a bunch of anti-Semites, they don’t miss a chance to write as many articles as they can.

Disgusting hypocrisy

These acts are part of a trend we are seeing all over the West, where anyone who stands up for the Palestinian people is slandered, smeared, and even outright repressed. François Legault, moreover, has stated that he does not rule out banning certain demonstrations linked to the war against the Palestinian people. We must resist these attacks, wherever they come from.

The Palestine solidarity movement faces powerful enemies: the state, capitalist governments and politicians, university administrations, and the media. But the demonstrations of recent weeks show that we have the numbers. As the horrors in Gaza multiply, hundreds of thousands of young people and workers are instinctively rallying to the cause. We must continue to mobilize on all campuses, in the trade union movement, and in the streets.

The real anti-Semitic acts of the last few days, notably in Montreal where shots were fired at Jewish schools, for example, are entirely condemnable. That said, the perpetrators of these acts are unknown, and it is totally dishonest to attempt to associate them with the Palestine solidarity movement. We reject all the base attempts to portray activists and the movement as filled with anti-Semitism. The real fomenters of violence and racism are the capitalists, politicians, and complicit media who support the Zionist regime in Israel. These are the people with blood on their hands.

We will continue to mobilize against the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. No slander, no intimidation, no lies, no attack on our democratic rights will stop us. The whole movement must stand firm in the face of attempts to demonize the solidarity movement.

Canadian imperialism has blood on its hands!

No to attacks on the pro-Palestine movement!

Intifada until victory!


La Riposte socialiste à l’UQAM et à l’UdeM

Socialist Fightback Concordia

Socialist Fightback McGill

Dawson Communists