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(L-A Benoit / The McGill Tribune)
(L-A Benoit / The McGill Tribune)

The Algemeiner ranks McGill fourth worst university for Jewish students

McGill/News by

In late December, The Algemeiner – a Jewish newspaper in the United States – ranked McGill University as the fourth worst university for Jewish students in its first annual list of “The 40 Worst Colleges for Jewish Students” in North America.

The Algemeiner editors reviewed anti-Semitic actions on campuses according to the definition by the U.S. State Department. In the description of why McGill University is considered anti-Semitic, they highlighted a student who was targeted by anti-Israeli groups because of her advocacy, anti-Israel protests on campus, a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement on campus, and The McGill Daily censoring pro-Israel content.

Hillel McGill is a Jewish student organization that supports the Jewish student population at McGill. Hillel McGill Vice-President Noah Lew, U1 Arts, said he does not believe that McGill deserves its poor ranking on the list.

“I strongly believe that the experience that many Jews have is excellent,” Lew said. “There are many Jewish organizations on campus: Hillel, Israel on Campus, [and] Chabad. [However,] many [Jewish students] refer to BDS as negatively affecting their experience.”

Melissa Freed, U1 Arts, who experienced anti-Semitic bullying in elementary school, said that she was surprised to see McGill University on this list, she has witnessed and experienced actions that could be misinterpreted as anti-Semitism.

“There’s very noticeable ‘Free Palestine’ graffiti on a building at the corner of Pine and Park,” Freed said. “Of course there are other factors too, the lack of kosher dining options, for example, that make it harder to be Jewish here than at other schools. However, I do suspect that the ranking was based with the belief that anti-Israel is the same thing as anti-Semitism.”

Unlike the beliefs of the article accompanying the ranking, Freed said she disagrees that BDS works against Jewish people.

“[BDS] is strictly political,” Freed said. “They oppose Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, and their actions are meant to further that message. It can certainly feel a bit hostile, especially for Jewish students who are more pro-Israeli occupation, but I do not feel physically threatened by the movement.”

According to Jonathan Boretsky, U1 Science, The Algemeiner ranking is misguided as it ignores important factors.


“I think the list is very misfounded,” Boretsky said. “The list should be titled ‘Most Active Anti-Israel Campuses with Sizeable Jewish Populations.’ I think McGill suffers from other problems unique to Montreal, but these problems are not in the spirit of the list and probably were not at all considered. For example, being a commuter school makes Hillel attendance difficult.”

A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Chabad. The Tribune regrets this error.

  • Brownstudent

    BDS is an anti-Semitic movement, so I can see why a campus that welcomes them wouldn’t be considered welcoming to Jews.

    • anonymous_McGill_student

      BDS is a Pro-Palestine movement. That is not the same thing as an Anti-Judaism movement, or even an Anti-Israel movement necessarily. Many Jews — and many Jewish students at McGill for that matter — also sympathize with the Palestinian cause.

      • Brownstudent

        The BDS leadership has made it explicit many times over that their intentions are to destroy Israel and replace it with a Palestinian Arab Muslim state. It is not pro-Palestine as it often targets Palestinians who don’t agree with them with harassment and threats. It is anti-Israel, and if you think it isn’t, that’s because you have been lied to by its supporters. Those Jews you mentioned probably were lied to as well.

  • Tamuno-Opubo Cookey-Gam

    I think “anti-semitic” is code for not bought off by the apartheid Israeli government.

    • Bery

      … And “not bought off by …” is not-so coded antisemitism.

      If BDS were simply a movement promoting the establishment of a secular, democratic Palestinian state willing to exist peacefully alongside Israel — not, as per the Hamas charter, an Islamist theocracy replacing all of Israel and eliminating the Jews: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp — there would be no problem. And most liberal democrats would be in favour. But it isn’t, and clear-headed left-liberals like myself have come to realize that “BDS” is simply updated code for an age-old hatred. Yes, there are Jews who have been taken in by the rhetoric, just as there were Jews who were taken in by Stalin… until he turned on them. Google “useful idiots” and “socialism of fools”.

      • Tamuno-Opubo Cookey-Gam

        What is the BDS movement to you?

        • Bery

          BDS is a ruse. It disguises in seemingly “progressive” language the goal of eliminating Israel as a Jewish state. That even the PLO charter (let alone the grossly antisemitic one of Hamas) is thoroughly theocratic doesn’t seem to register with gullible western sympathizers. Only the Jews — the historically indigenous inhabitants of Israel — http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international-affairs/312895-heres-how-were-getting-it-wrong-on-the-israeli — aren’t allowed a state of their own. (And being of part native-Canadian descent myself, I am acutely sensitive to matters of indigenity.)

          Israel is the only liberal democratic state in the Middle East, the only state in the region with freedom of religion (try opening a church or – heaven forbid! – a synagogue in Saudi Arabia !), the only state where women’s rights are strenuously defended, when gays march proudly in Tel Aviv, where Arabs serve on the Supreme Court and Africans can be “Miss Israel”…etc. But BDS wants to eliminate this. Even anti-Israel advocates like Norman Finkelstein acknowledge what’s really behind BDS… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iggdO7C70P8

  • Bery

    And just to confirm what a hostile place this has become to (mainstream) Jewish students, there’s the Igor Sadikov affair – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/punch-a-zionist-mcgill-student-politics-1.3975773 (of course the Daily won’t allow anyone to comment on its utterly slanted version of the affair).

    Sadikov — who incites violence against his political opponents but now complains that he doesn’t feel “safe” — is a perfect illustration of the famous definition of “chutzpah” (google it on Wikipedia): “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an
    orphan”!!

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