Uni­ver­si­ties face fights over posters Stu­dents an­gry as Car­leton, U of O ban anti-Is­rael art

Ottawa Citizen - - Sports - BY DON BUT­LER

Stu­dent or­ga­niz­ers of “Is­raeli Apartheid Week” at Car­leton Uni­ver­sity and the Uni­ver­sity of Ottawa are de­mand­ing an ex­pla­na­tion as to why both ad­min­is­tra­tions banned a graphic poster ad­ver­tis­ing next week’s event.

The banned poster — a car­toon cre­ated by a Brazil­ian artist — shows an Is­raeli gun­ship fir­ing a rocket at a Pales­tinian child in Gaza.

Even though the Uni­ver­sity of Ottawa agreed Mon­day to al­low or­ga­niz­ers to post a dif­fer­ent, milder poster ad­ver­tis­ing the March 1-8 event, they re­main un­sat­is­fied.

Mah­moud Hmouz, of Sol­i­dar­ity for Pales­tinian Hu­man Rights, said his group wants the uni­ver­sity to ex­plain its de­ci­sion or re­verse its action.

“We’re ac­tu­ally re­ally out­raged at the Uni­ver­sity of Ottawa,” Hmouz said. “We feel we haven’t done any­thing wrong.”

At Car­leton, the stu­dents’ union has ap­proved the new poster for no­tice­boards it con­trols, said Jes­sica Carpinone of Stu­dents Against Is­raeli Apartheid. But that hasn’t de­fused the is­sue, she said.

The uni­ver­sity has given “no valid rea­son for ban­ning the poster other than that it’s a con­tro­ver­sial is­sue,” she said, adding that her group’s free­dom of ex­pres­sion “is be­ing sti­fled by the ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

But Frank Di­mant, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of B’nai Brith Canada, com­mended both uni­ver­si­ties for the ban.

He said they should go even fur­ther and ban Is­raeli Apartheid Week it­self, which he de­scribed a “hate fest” that threat­ens Jewish stu­dents and pro­fes­sors.

“This is part of an on­go­ing, well-or­ches­trated cam­paign of in­tim­i­da­tion and ha­rass­ment and now, at times, even re­sult­ing in phys­i­cal at­tacks.”

Two weeks ago, he said, Jewish stu­dents at York Uni­ver­sity were “held cap­tive” in a room sur­rounded by Is­raeli Apartheid Week sup­port­ers. “Peo­ple were bang­ing on walls and scream­ing things like ‘death to the Jews,’ ” Di­mant said. Po­lice fi­nally es­corted the Jewish stu­dents off cam­pus for their own safety.

Di­mant said com­plaints from Jewish stu­dents on cam­pus have spiked in the runup to next week’s event, which be­gan five years ago at the Uni­ver­sity of Toronto. It has since spread to more than 40 cam­puses and lo­ca­tions around the world.

Ac­cord­ing to its web­site, the event’s pur­pose is to “ed­u­cate peo­ple about the na­ture of Is­rael as an apartheid sys­tem” and build boy­cott, di­vest­ment and sanc­tions cam­paigns. This is the third time the se­ries of speak­ers, films and panel dis­cus­sions has been held at the Uni­ver­sity of Ottawa, and the first time at Car­leton.

Uni­ver­sity of Ottawa spokes­woman An­drée Du­mu­lon said the uni­ver­sity turned down the first poster mainly be­cause it felt it could be in­flam­ma­tory and “ca­pa­ble of in­cit­ing con­fronta­tion.”

At Car­leton, spokesman Chris Wal­ters said the uni­ver­sity’s eq­uity ser­vices of­fice turned down the poster be­cause it felt it could in­cite in­fringe­ments of On­tario’s hu­man rights code.

The eq­uity of­fice has seen the new poster, he said, and has no prob­lems with it, but can’t ap­prove it un­til or­ga­niz­ers sub­mit it for ap­proval.

Carpinone said there’s been a “huge re­sponse” to Car­leton’s re­jec­tion of the first poster. About 350 peo­ple have writ­ten to uni­ver­sity pres­i­dent Roseanne Runte, and at least 40 Car­leton fac­ulty have signed a let­ter of protest, she said. SOUNDOFF Do you agree with the poster ban?

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