Citizen Action Monitor

Newspaper article about student vote favouring boycott of Israel ignites readers’ angry comments

Windsor Star story prompts astounding display of public ignorance

No 995 Posted by fw, March 3, 2014

A front-page story in the print edition of today’s Windsor Star reported on the outcome of a referendum vote yesterday by students at the University of Windsor. The article, and the readers’ comments it sparked, are reproduced below.

But first this personal opinion. The Windsor Star’s pro-Israeli bias in its infrequent coverage of Middle East events has on two occasions prompted me to submit two critical letters to the editor and posts to this blog, here and here. Is it not reasonable to suggest that the readers’ angry comments below reflect the Star’s failure to keep its readers responsibly informed about Israeli-Palestinian developments?

Setting aside matters of accuracy, balance, and objectivity of the article in question, what is noteworthy is the astonishing display of ignorance reflected in the 11 readers’ comments to  the story. Incidentally, the examples of cherry-picking evidence and using them out of context to support one’s prejudices are easy to spot.

These comments, which appeared in the Star’s online edition, are reproduced here, unedited. Personal names and pseudonyms have been omitted –

  • What a shameful event for the university.  It’s time the revisit how many islamists they let into the university. David, I don’t want to be part of a university that endorses such a campaign and creates a hostile environment either.  My donations to the University of Windsor have come to an end!
  • so 798 of our young bright minds and future leaders voted in favor of more repressive religion of peace and for less democracy and human rights in the middle east . how many of the 798 are women and gays that would be less than second class if they were living with the palestinians and not here in nice wide open canada ? how many of the 798 are christians  who would have their churches burned and themselves shot by the o so open and liberal religion of peace followers that they are supporting .  how many of the 798  are religion of peace followers that wanted to escape the hell holes they came from so canada imported them and yet they vote for an expansion of the insanity they escaped from , while enjoying the freedoms of canada , that they could not get if they were back home .
  • I think that this referendum is a form of hate crime and should be taken seriously as such.
  • Disgusting!
  • Seems to me those students would be better off to hold a referendum about Syria and Russia.   And where were they when the Palestinians were using children as suicide bombers? ( See the following from Wikipedia):

Child suicide bombers in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict refers to the exploitation of children to carry out suicide bombings by Palestinian militant groups. Minors have been recruited to attack Israeli targets, both military and civilian, especially during the Second Intifada from 2000 to 2005. This deliberate involvement of children in armed conflict has been condemned by International human rights organizations.

According to Amnesty International, “Palestinian armed groups have repeatedly shown total disregard for the most fundamental human rights, notably the right to life, by deliberately targeting Israeli civilians and by using Palestinian children in armed attacks.”

  • here is a small sample of what the christians that voted for this could expect if they lived there “

(CNN) — Islamist militants have told Christians in a northern Syrian city that they will guarantee their safety. But there’s a catch.

Make that a lot of catches.

Christian residents of Raqqa, once one of the nation’s most liberal cities, will have to pay as much as 17 grams of gold per adult male in an annual payment, the extremist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) said in a statement posted online this week.

The group is also forbidding the city’s Christians from repairing or refurbishing their churches and monasteries, said the statement, which has been circulated in the city, according to Syrian activists

  • This is only the tip of the iceberg. It is truly disgusting that university students (our future leaders) could be so easily led as to vote for this hateful referendum. I agree that this referendum smells like a hate crime.
  • So building homes in “disputed” lands is worthy of a boycott, but it’s ok to lob rockets at civilian targets and blow up buses of children. Like one of the comments above, it’s sad that Canada allows people filled with hate in.
  • Sad day for U of W and shamefull!  Little by little.
  • The more I think about it, I am deeply concerned about where we are headed in this country. Not in my lifetime, but we will eventually turn into a country divided by hate and there will be battles where many people will die in the name of religion some of which teach to kill non-believers. This is a legacy that I will be passing on to my heirs because I voted for the people who made up our rules and created the environment for this to happen.
  • What a shameful display by the University be even allowing such a vote!

**********

Here is the Windsor Star story that sparked the above display of public blindness to the truth about the Palestinian BDS campaign and Israel’s daily persecution of Palestinians in the Occupied   Territories — not, as one reader wrote, “disputed land”

 Students OK controversial referendum by Rebecca Wright, The Windsor Star, March 3, 2014

Vote raises complaints, safety concerns

“I THINK THE REFERENDUM WILL JUST LEAD TO A MORE HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT ON CAMPUS.”

Passage of a controversial University of Windsor student referendum to boycott Israel has sparked safety concerns for some Jewish students on campus, as well as complaints that have prompted an investigation of the vote by the school’s administration.

“I think the referendum will just lead to a more hostile environment on campus,” said David, a Jewish University of Windsor student who only wanted to give his first name for safety reasons.

The referendum asked students whether to support the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a campaign aimed at creating economic sanctions against Israel and boycotting companies, products, academic institutions and any other group with ties to the Israeli state.

Voting was open to students from Thursday to Saturday.

Rob Crawford, University of Windsor Students’ Alliance president, said 798 students voted in favour of the referendum and 585 students voted against it. The university has about 14,000 undergraduate students.

Crawford said Saturday he didn’t want to comment on the controversial issue.

“I need to wrap my head around everything,” said Crawford after the votes were tallied. He wasn’t available for comment Sunday.

David, 28, said the referendum’s passage means Jewish students on campus “better just keep low” because they can’t safely express their political views.

“Unfortunately, the University of Windsor is not a safe place for Jewish students anymore,” David said. “I don’t think I am in immediate physical danger, but it’s just not an easy environment to be a Jew on campus, especially when you are a vocal supporter of Israel.”

The issue landed on a referendum ballot at the university after the student Palestinian Solidarity Group called for it in November.

Mohammed Almoayad, president of the group, said the University of Windsor has made history by passing the referendum.

“Most other students’ unions that have passed it have been just through their council student representatives, and they get criticized for not being open and democratic and not allowing students themselves to say what they think about such a contentious issue,” Almoayad said Saturday. “So we let all students voice their concerns on this issue, and so we feel that it makes a stronger statement. So we’re very proud.”

David said there were students who were afraid to vote No to the referendum after an incident on campus Thursday that police described as a hate crime.

Jake De Jong, vice-president of academic affairs for the student alliance, arrived at his office Thursday — the morning students were to begin voting in a referendum — to find it turned inside out. On a Support Our Troops flag hanging in his office, someone also spray painted the Star of David and the word Zionist.

The act has received condemnation from Windsor police and the Windsor Jewish Community Centre.

University president Alan Wildeman released a statement about the referendum on Facebook Sunday.

“We are receiving complaints that are raising questions about the referendum process,” Wildeman said. He said a full investigation is being launched to look into the complaints.

“We’ve had a lot of concerns about the process and what the implications of the outcome of it might mean and we’re just going to look into those right now,” Wildeman told The Star Sunday evening. “Until such time that we’ve had a chance to really do an investigation, I’m not going to disclose any details.”

Wildeman said the process going forward is for the UWSA council to discuss the outcome of the referendum.

“And I don’t know exactly what the nature of that conversation will be,” Wildeman said.

Wildeman said after “a lot of complaints” were expressed, he released the statement to let the community know the university is taking the complaints seriously.

“The University of Windsor will be uncompromising in its commitment to continue to be a place that is welcoming and safe for all students,” Wildeman said in his statement. “The university will not tolerate any practices, by any member or group of its community, that target specific individuals or entities on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, religion, or any other personal characteristic.”

Leading up to the vote, David, who is a member of VOTE NO to BDS at UWindsor — a student group that campaigned against the boycott — said it was difficult for opponents to get their point across to students because their campaigning kept getting disrupted.

“Any poster we put up, five minutes later it was gone,” David said.

David said the vote was close and since it was 57 per cent of students who voted in favour of the boycott and 42 per cent who voted against, there was not that much more support for the boycott.

But Almoayad said more than 200 students is a significant margin.

“The students clearly care about this issue,” Almoayad said.

The referendum is a first step toward ending Israel’s violation of international law, and shows solidarity, he said.

“University of Windsor actually was one of the first universities in Canada to divest from the apartheid regime in the late ’80s, so we were really involved in social justice issues like that, so we totally thought this would be something that students would be interested in,” Almoayad said. “And the fact that they voted in favour of it obviously means students on the campus are interested in it.”

David said he planned to stay in Windsor to do his master’s degree but has now reconsidered.

“I don’t want to be part of a university that endorses such a campaign and creates a hostile environment,” David said. “With this BDS campaign, you don’t feel safe if you have a kippah or even a T-shirt with Hebrew letters on it. Jewish students do not feel safe here any more and we have to watch our backs when we walk around our campus.”

Wildeman said further details about complaints about the referendum will be made public as the investigation unfolds.

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This entry was posted on March 3, 2014 by in student & youth counterpower and tagged , .
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