In 2012, with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and its opportunistic infiltration by anti-Israel activists, I noticed a paradigm shift. 2012 was the big inflection point. It was downhill from there.
I graduated in 2013. In the years that followed, we had four BDS referendums in 2 years. With each one, BDS lost by a smaller margin. Finally, at the last one, BDS won, but was declared unconstitutional by the Judicial Board, due to discrimination against students by national origin. The Joseph Goebbels-style tactics – if you repeat a lie enough times to the public, they end up believing it to be true regardless of how far-fetched it is – had won out. Since then, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) has been behaving as if the motion had been ratified, arguing that despite the J-Board decision, BDS reflects the opinions of their constituents.
I remember the “queer Palestinians” who hung out in “progressive” circles. They, I later discovered, as I followed them on social media in the years after they graduated, were the children of the Fatah and Hamas elite, who saw their charade as a means to an end, a way to bond with and subsequently sway well-meaning, impressionable leftist circles, students looking for a cause. (Who else in the PA could afford to study abroad and pay international tuition?) When they graduated, many moved back to the Palestinian Territories, removed their septum rings, grew out their pixie cuts, and married the opposite sex in lavish ceremonies. The veneer of the liberated yet oppressed “progressive Palestinian” who was just looking for Justice was just that – a veneer. Those who stayed behind in Montreal blended into the Arab community, and also became more “traditional,” if they didn’t get the opportunity to move up the echelons in the activist world, to make the Palestinian struggle into their career.
Unlike Palestinians in Montreal – or at least, how they are perceived – we Jews had done relatively well for ourselves. We had worked hard and climbed the corporate ladder. Most of the faculty in my department were Jewish. We were the last thing people associated with “oppressed” and the first thing people associated with “success.” So it comes as no surprise that those who were conditioned with Marxist ideas, that being oppressed makes one virtuous, and that the winning team is necessarily in the wrong and had to have oppressed the losing team to get to where they are, did not take kindly to pro-Israel talking points.
But these anarcho-Marxists (which still strikes me as an oxymoron) were the fringe.
After BDS took over the Students’ Society of McGill University, Israel went from being a nation to a political view. In 2016, the largest paper at McGill, the McGill Daily, issued a statement that they wouldn’t publish anything Zionist, a policy many of us suspected they had for years, though it had suddenly become socially acceptable to say so out loud. The brazenness of that statement, to me, reflected a turning point in campus politics, and the increasing banality of antisemitism.
Recently, McGill student councilor Jordyn Wright was asked to resign from the Students Society of McGill University for agreeing to go on a politically neutral trip that exposed students to both sides, simply because it was sponsored by the Jewish student society. [It was later revealed to be funded by the Maccabee Task Force, a staunchly pro-Israel group criticized by university students for receiving funding from two donors who are publicly “known” as “right wing”*** That being said, SSMU should reflect the diversity of the student body, so left and right-sponsored “trips” should be allowed in equal measure, because intellectual curiosity should know no bounds]. Sadly this incident wouldn’t have surprised me in 2016. But what did surprise me was that the traditionally apolitical Science Undergraduate Society also asked her to resign. The message was projected loud and clear: only anti-Israel students are allowed in ANY McGill student politics.
Wright issued the following statement:
If an Italian wanted to go to Italy to uncover their Catholic roots, nobody would bat an eye. But if a Jew wanted to reconnect with her heritage, even if it was a left-wing J-Street-esque “seeing both sides” type of trip endorsed by Hillel, the Jewish Student Society, that was a political statement. It was suddenly a giant middle finger to Palestinian students, and therefore controversial and unacceptable. A “conflict of interest.”
If an Indian student were to visit India to see her family, or even go on a heritage trip, that wouldn’t be decried as “offending Pakistani students.” Nobody would care.
Now that McGill endorses BDS, as the hip “cause du jour” touted by influencers such as Bella Hadid and Zayn Malik, a Jew visiting her homeland is forbidden, at least if one has any political aspirations.
Aliyah is tough. Having not a single family member in this entire country is honestly torture. Living in a country without a stable government for almost a year is complicated, to say the least. But when I learn about incidents like these, I realize that if a Jew wants to live an authentic Jewish life, and be openly and proudly pro-Israel, there is a dwindling number of places where they will be accepted.
These college students are the future, and if this banality of antisemitism is the future, we have none.