Tuesday, February 19

CAIA Statement on Campus Repression at McMaster University: Call to Action

Defend the Rights of Student Organizers!
Our Movement
Will Not Be Silenced!

McMaster University President
Dr. Peter George preswww@mcmaster.ca
McMaster students

CAIA Statement on Campus Repression at McMaster

The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) calls
on all supporters of Palestinian rights to defend the
right to organize at McMaster University, Hamilton,
Ontario. Last week, the McMaster Provost office,
second in authority to that of the President's office,
announced that student clubs were banned from using
the term "Israeli Apartheid". This is an unprecedented
attack on the right to free speech, academic freedom,
and the right to organize.

This shocking decision came as students were
attempting to organize events as part of Israeli
Apartheid Week (IAW) and was accepted by McMaster
Human Rights & Equity Services (HRES) and, in turn,
the McMaster Student Union. This information was
communicated to Solidarity for Palestinian Human
Rights (SPHR) and McMaster Muslims for Peace & Justice
(MMPJ) by the MSU and HRES. Due to this decision,
these MSU approved clubs have not been able to get
approval for various initiatives related to campaigns
against Israeli Apartheid.

Across the globe, the movement against Israeli
apartheid and in support of a comprehensive campaign
of boycott, divestment and sanctions has been endorsed
by hundreds of universities, unions, religious groups
and social justice organizations. This campaign is
proudly anti-racist, and founded on the principles of
opposition to all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and
Islamophobia. It draws its inspiration from the global
campaign to isolate South African apartheid and is led
by many of the same individuals who were at the
forefront of that earlier struggle.

According to the U.N definition, the crime of
Apartheid is defined as the "institutionalised regime
of systematic oppression and domination by one racial
group over any other racial group or groups" and
includes crimes such as "murder, extermination,
deportation or forcible transfer of population,
imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical
liberty, torture, enforced disappearance of persons,
persecution against any identifiable group or
collectively on political, racial, national, ethnic,
cultural or other grounds."

Prominent South African individuals and organizations
including the Congress of South African Trade Unions
(COSATU), Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and John Duggard,
the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the
Occupied Territories, have described Israeli practices
as a form of Apartheid. Former US President Jimmy
Carter, certainly no friend of the Palestinians or
people of the Global South, has called Israel an
apartheid state. Even Israelis, such as Haaretz
journalist Danny Rubinstein, have used this term.
Would McMaster University prevent these people and
organizations from speaking on campus?

The movement against Israeli apartheid is rapidly
growing on campuses across the world. Two days ago,
the student union at the London School of Economics
voted in favour of divestment from Israel. This year,
Israeli Apartheid Week occurred globally in 25
locations and was launched by exiled Palestinian
member of the Israeli Knesset, Azmi Bishara, in
Soweto, South Africa (see apartheidweek.org). Over
2000 students and community members attended IAW
events in Toronto, which included a conference
launching the new group, High Schools Against Israeli
Apartheid (HAIA).

It is in response to this success that the Zionist
movement and their supporters are launching a campaign
of intimidation, repression and bureaucratic
maneuverings. During IAW, pro-Israeli apartheid
organizations attacked the week in paid full-page
advertisements in national newspapers. The Israeli
ambassador organized a public forum in Ottawa to speak
against IAW. Zionist groups attempted to organize
counter-events on campuses but these were poorly
attended and by their own admission failed miserably.
A pro-apartheid demonstration organized by the
far-right Jewish Defense League on the first night of
Israeli Apartheid week at Ryerson University attracted
a meager 25 individuals, while, at the same time, over
350 people attended the IAW lecture that night.

CAIA firmly believes that this attempt to repress
student organizing will ultimately fail. The McMaster
University administration should understand this
message very clearly: We refuse to be silenced and we
will fight back.

We call on student organizations, social justice
groups and concerned individuals from around the world
to support students at McMaster and the broader rights
of Palestine organizers. Please take the following

* If you live in the Ontario region, please plan to
attend the FORUM on free speech and Israeli apartheid
planned at McMaster University on Friday 29 February
10am. BUSES will be organized from
downtown Toronto and other
places across the province to attend this important
meeting (stay tuned for details).

* Immediately EMAIL the McMaster University President,
Dr. Peter George at preswww@mcmaster.ca. asking why he
has permitted this infringement of basic democratic
principles and requesting that he immediately restore
the Charter rights of McMaster students.

* Send a message of support to the McMaster students
organizing against this decision at

* Contact your local media and request that they write
a story on student organizing and repression at
McMaster University.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:16 am

    I dont want any sort of group or organiation to create a split between my fellow students based on personal opinions and agendas. McMaster is a peaceful instituition. Please dont spoil our college life with personal motifs!!!!!!