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April 15, 2009

McGill’s Pro-Israel Students Versus Law School’s Associate Dean

Two of the many photos comprising the Palestinian Human Rights Week exhibit at the Law Building. At left, a letter purportedly sent from Gaza Strip, entitled "The war in which I was killed and Gaza survived," alleging Israeli atrocities. At right, a picture of two dead Palestinian children. (Digital photos courtesy of Gregory Harris).
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Associate Dean David Lametti removed pro-Israel demonstrators from the Law Building

At Montreal’s prestigious McGill University, the demonizing of Israel, attendant to Apartheid Week activities, was extended for another week to March 11-18 with Palestinian Human Rights Week (PHRW), comprised of lectures and an exhibit. Among other alleged human rights violations, the exhibit depicted the suffering of Gazans during the recent conflict.

An audience for an anti-Israel exhibit might be aware that the decades-long history of the Arab-Israel conflict has been full of terrible accusations of Israeli atrocities and human rights violations. But these audiences tend to be either unaware or unconcerned that the overwhelming majority of these accusations were subsequently shown to be either completely false or grossly exaggerated. A recent example are the false charges of Israeli atrocities in Gaza.

The consequences of the PHRW exhibit were covered in a reasonably balanced way by McGill’s main student newspapers, the Tribune and Daily, something which hasn’t always been the case at McGill as a CAMERA article noted some time ago.

The Daily said:

Peaceful pro-Israel protesters were expelled from the Law Building on March 17 by Associate Dean at McGill’s Faculty of Law, David Lametti, for silently campaigning against a photo exhibit meant to evoke sympathy for the violence faced by the Palestinians.

The pro-Israel non-law students had demonstrated peacefully alongside the PHRW display designed to elicit anti-Israel emotions. The pro-Israel demonstration, organized by Arieh Bloom, President of Republicans Abroad at McGill, carefully avoided obscuring the visibility of the PHRW display.

According to the Daily:

Bloom, who had consulted a lawyer before the counter demonstration, was certain that none of the signs he was showing were hateful. While he described the signs as teaching peace, love and toleration, some did portray violence. One placard depicted a child dressed in green Hamas gear holding a machine gun. Beside the baby sat the slogan: “Teach love, peace, and toleration – not war.”

The Tribune quoted Mr. Bloom: "The associate dean did not demonstrate a proper duty of care by not evaluating our display." According to the Tribune, Mr. Lametti claimed that the pro-Israel demonstrators had failed to go through proper channels to gain permission for the demonstration whereas the plans of the committee for PHRW, in conjunction with members of Young Jews for Social Justice, had been approved. McGill’s Jewish Law Students Association did not participate in the process which determined the advisability of approving the PHRW exhibit since the membership, divided on how to respond, had taken no official position regarding the exhibit.

Mr. Lametti’s expulsion of the pro-Israel students may have violated McGill’s Charter of Student Rights protecting students’ freedom of assembly. The demonstrators have sought a public apology from Mr. Lametti but he has denied any wrongdoing. The demonstrators now seek to file a formal grievance with the help of their student advisor, Mikhail Iokheles, a third-year law student from Sharon, Massachusetts.

Posted by MK at April 15, 2009 03:49 PM

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Posted by: GI at April 21, 2009 06:34 PM

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