FIRST READING: The pro-terror rot at the center of Canadian academia

FIRST READING: The pro-terror rot at the center of Canadian academia

Tenured professors, faculty unions, and registered student societies all cheered the mass-murder of 1,000 as an act of “resistance”

Published Oct 16, 2023  •  Last updated 4 hours ago  •  7 minute read

York Federation of Students
The York Federation of Students executive team alongside a statement they released pledging unequivocal “solidarity” with Palestine after a Hamas-orchestrated terror attack that killed more than 1,000 civilians. Photo by York Federation of Students

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As Canadians took in news of the worst terrorist attack since 9/11, it was accompanied by the added shock that the sentiment within Canada’s halls of higher learning seemed to be quite different. At universities across the country, the Oct. 7 attacks were openly applauded.

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Academics weren’t merely condemning “violence on both sides” or attempting to explain the motives of the perpetrators: They were explicit messages of support and even celebration. They also weren’t stray social media posts from the odd fringe undergrad: Tenured professors, faculty unions, and registered student societies all saw the coordinated mass-murder of more than 1,000 civilians and praised it as an act of “resistance.”  

Below, a quick review.

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York Federation of Students celebrates ‘strong act of resistance,’ calls for more

The York Federation of Students claims to represent 55,000 students at Toronto’s York University – all of whom are forced to cover the group’s annual budget of $2 million via compulsory student fees. On Thursday, the federation released a statement that is nearly indistinguishable from Hamas propaganda. Israel is framed as a colonialist oppressor whose existence needs to be violently purged by force, and the attacks are called “justified and necessary.”

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“This is ‘decolonization’ and ‘land-back’ actualized,” the statement adds, referencing two terms whose implementation on Canadian soil the federation has often called for.

The statement also comes with a trigger warning. Before launching into a full-throated defence of Hamas terrorism, the release warns readers that the content makes reference to “ongoing violence.”

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York University law professor justifies attack as ‘right of resistance’

Heidi Matthews is a law professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School specializing in “international criminal law” and the “law of war.” In January, York University announced her as one of the recipients of a $450,000 grant for a project entitled “From Colonial Genocide to Just Relationships.”

The day after the attacks, Matthews posted to X (formerly Twitter) that there was “a lot of obfuscation going on about what the right of resistance looks like in brutally asymmetric contexts.” When a fellow lawyer called the statement “problematic” and suggested that indiscriminate attacks on civilians are not “resistance,” Matthews replied, “I think I’ll leave it to the Palestinians to let us know what resistance looks like to them.”

Heidi Matthews post

McMaster faculty union rejoices at attack, ‘Palestine is rising!’ 

Only hours after the first reports emerged from Israel of civilians killed by Hamas in mass-shootings and house-to-house massacres, CUPE local 3906 posted a message to social media reading “Palestine is rising, long live the resistance.” The union represents sessional faculty at Hamilton, Ont.’s McMaster University. McMaster officials apparently confronted CUPE 3906 about “condoning violence,” which yielded only a follow-up statement from the union reiterating their support for the attack and the eventual destruction of Israel – while claiming neither had any relation to violence against civilians. “The Executive is united against colonial occupation and state violence, and stands in solidarity with those in decolonial struggle everywhere,” it read.

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In response to backlash over a message of solidarity with Palestinians, the Executive of CUPE Local 3906 stands united against colonial occupation and state violence and has developed the following statement with profound care. Read in full here:

— CUPE Local 3906 (@cupe_3906) October 10, 2023

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Multiple Palestinian and Muslim student groups cheer terror

Palestinian Human Rights McGill, a group recognized by McGill University’s official student union, issued a since-deleted Facebook post on Tuesday praising the “historic attack against the Zionist occupation,” framing it as a “new phase” in the “Palestinian cause.”

On Wednesday, that same group issued a joint statement with Palestinian student groups at Concordia University and two Montreal-area CEGEPS stating that Hamas had “no option but to resist.” “We hold the Israeli regime fully responsible for the escalated violence,” it adds.

“Our brave brothers and sisters in Palestine are demonstrating immense resilience in the face of oppression,” read an Instagram post by the Osgoode Hall Law School Muslim Student’s Association. The post appears to have been removed, but a screenshot was taken by Montreal-based political consultant Anthony Koch.

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University of Ottawa associate professor praises statement blaming Israel

While virtually the entirety of the Canadian political establishment reacted to the Oct. 7 massacres with horror and denunciations of Hamas, a notable outlier was Ontario NDP MPP Sarah Jama. Jama, who has a bit of a history denouncing Israel as an illegitimate oppressor state, issued a statement making no reference to the massacres, but calling on “apartheid” Israel to “end all occupation of Palestinian land.”

This spurred calls for Jama’s resignation from both the Ontario Progressive Conservatives and the Ontario Liberals, although she remains in the Ontario NDP caucus. And according to Baljit Nagra, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa, Jama was courageous and did “the right thing.” Nagra’s published research is focused primarily on the issue of Muslims in the West being oppressed by the security state and defamed by “radicalization” narratives. Her most recent paper, published in Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, is Anti-Muslim Surveillance: Canadian Muslims’ Experiences with CSIS.

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University of Toronto political scientist calls for similar ‘anticolonial resistance’ at home

Uahikea Maile is an assistant professor of Indigenous politics at the University of Toronto. In January, the university announced that Maile (who prefers both male and nonbinary pronouns) would be heading up a new research laboratory focusing on “colonial dispossession.” The Oct. 7 massacres were still underway when Maile, writing from Hawaii, penned a social media post calling the killings “Palestinian anticolonial resistance” – and seeming to infer that similar attacks should be brought to the rest of the colonized world. “Remember that—from Hawaiʻi to Palestine—occupation is a crime,” he wrote.

As Hawaiians wake up to the news of Palestinian anticolonial resistance in Gaza to Israeli settler colonialism, remember that—from Hawaiʻi to Palestine—occupation is a crime. A lāhui that stands for decolonization and deoccupation should also stand behind freedom for Palestine.

— Uahikea Maile (@uahikea) October 7, 2023

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McMaster professor of social work implies attack is what decolonization looks like

“Postcolonial, anticolonial, and decolonial are not just words you heard in your EDI workshop,” wrote Ameil Joseph on Oct. 7 while the massacres were still occurring. EDI is “equity, diversity and inclusion,” and refers to a program now ubiquitous across Canadian academia and the civil service in which employees are taught that their institutions are shot through with systemic oppression that can only be addressed with policy explicitly tailored to treat people differently based on factors such as race or ability. 

EDI has been a major focus at McMaster, with the school operating a dedicated Equity and Inclusion Office. Joseph is an associate professor of social work specializing in “postcolonial theory.” In 2020, he received more than five figures in federal grant funding for a project with Sarah Jama (the now-MPP referenced above) to study the “unique challenges and barriers faced by disabled youth.” As recently as June, he was a major figure criticizing the Hamilton Police for using force against black people at a rate disproportionate to their share of the local population – a disparity he attributed to systemic racism.

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Ameil Joseph

Conspicuously vague statements from multiple university administrators

There’s been no top-level statement from a Canadian university expressing support for the Oct. 7 attacks. But in almost every case that the attacks have warranted an official reaction from an accredited university, the statement has exercised a degree of vagueness conspicuously out of character with their usual responses to tragedy. A round-up collected by The Hub found that not a single statement framed the massacres as an act of terror. UBC referenced a “tragic loss of lives across the region,” the University of Ottawa called it “the current hostilities between Israel and Hamas” and Western University simply called it “violence in the Middle East.”

Compare UBC’s statement on the Oct. 7 attacks to the one they issued after the 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. That one denounced “systemic racism and institutionalized violence” and diagnosed Floyd’s death as the consequences of sanctioned and willful ignorance of the legacies of enslavement and eugenics, along with ongoing political, material, and social marginalization, policing, incarceration, and wide-spread anti-Blackness.”

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Canada’s most recent round of Ukrainian aid can somewhat be characterized as “whatever random military stuff we have around.” On Wednesday, Defence Minister Bill Blair announced a shipment to Ukraine including 2,000 uniforms for “women Ukrainian soldiers,” 2,000 artillery shells, 3,000 rounds of smoke ammunition, sleeping bags and some “naval ammunition.” The smoke ammunition is largely useless given that the Russians have thermal imaging to see through it. And those artillery shells will probably only be enough to run one artillery piece for a few hours. This is where we should mention that Canada is slashing an additional $1 billion from its military. 

Adi Vital-Kaploun
Details have emerged about the death of Adi Vital-Kaploun, one of three Canadians known to have been killed in the Oct. 7 attacks. According to the Globe and Mail, the family was told by the Israel Defence Forces that Vital-Kaploun was shot to death inside her home in front of her two young sons, and then her body shoved under her four-year-old’s bed and booby-trapped to explode if anyone attempted to move her. Photo by Supplied

This week yielded the rare sight of the Supreme Court of Canada releasing a decision that favours Alberta over the federal government. The Trudeau government’s 2019 Impact Assessment Act gave Ottawa massive increased powers to veto resource projects due to environmental concerns – which prompted critics to call it the “No More Pipelines Act.” The Constitution, however, states that “non-renewable natural resources” are exclusively the domain of the provinces. Thus, in a 5-2 decision, the Supreme Court upheld an Alberta-led challenge to the act. The decision told Ottawa that environmental protection is important, but they’re not allowed to unconstitutionally violate provincial jurisdiction. 

Jewish Hospital closure
Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital was closed Friday due to fears that it would be targeted as part of a “day of rage” called for by Hamas leadership in Qatar. Much of Canadian Jewish life was similarly on lockdown Friday, with Toronto Police command centres set up inside Jewish schools and beefed-up security protocols instituted outside synagogues and Jewish community centres. Toronto Police arrested three youths on Friday in connection with a Thursday incident in which they allegedly walked into a Hebrew school to intimidate and threaten Jewish students. Photo by McGill University

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