‘Abhorrent’: York University condemns student union groups for statement appearing to glorify Hamas
A sign for Toronto's York University is seen in this undated file photo.
Published Friday, October 13, 2023 3:06PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 13, 2023 4:59PM EDT
York University is condemning a statement issued by three student associations which appears to glorify the terror attack perpetrated against Israeli civilians last week.
In a shocking statement released jointly Thursday by the York Federation of students (YFS), The York University Graduate Students Association and the Glendon College Students Union, the student unions appears to applaud the actions of Hamas.
The statement referred to the Oct. 7 attack on Israelis, which included the murder of children and reports of widespread sexual violence, as “a strong act of resistance.”
The statement refers to Israel as the “so-called Israel,” an apparent indication the student unions do not recognize the country’s existence.
In their statement, the student-funded groups lashed out at Israel for its air strikes on Gaza, saying they came in response to “Palestinian resistance.”
The statement went on further: “We stand firmly in solidarity with those resisting such oppression, actively contributing to the legitimate fight for justice against settler-colonial nations. We as students’ unions have a responsibility to spread awareness and support the liberation of Palestine and all struggles for Indigenous sovereignty.”
While most countries recognize the Palestinians’ right to seek an independent state, Hamas has long been considered a terrorist organization by Canada and most Western countries because it deliberately targets civilians. The group seeks to ultimately replace Israel with an Islamic theocracy.
In its surprise attack on Israel Saturday, its members slaughtered young people at a music festival and carried away around 130 civilians as hostages, including children and elderly people.
“York University unequivocally condemns the inflammatory statement shared by three student unions last night. Freedom of expression has limits and comes with responsibilities. It must never reach into promoting or justifying violence against unarmed civilians,” the university said in a statement posted to X Friday.
“To suggest otherwise is abhorrent and does not reflect the views of York University, nor the perspective of many thousands of York University students.”
Some 1,300 Israelis, most civilians, were killed in the attack, which came on a Jewish holiday.
“We call upon the executives of the York Federation of Students, York University Graduate Student Association, and the Glendon College Student Union to immediately clarify that they firmly reject any acts of violence or discrimination against Jewish students or other members of the community, and to reaffirm their commitment to non-violence and the safety of all of their members,” the university said.
The student unions released their statement Thursday as Jewish communities around the world boosted security in the wake of online threats related to the war.
In a statement, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) called the student group’s post “outrageous.”
“This statement not only misrepresents Hamas terrorists as ‘Palestinian people,’ but also justifies their land, air and sea incursion into Israel to commit horrendous mass murder, rape, mutilation and torture against Israeli people, calling it an ‘act of resistance,’” the group said.
Meanwhile, in a statement released on Friday afternoon Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop called on the student unions to apologize and rescind the statement.
“The joint statement published by three student unions supporting a recognized terrorist organization and promoting and glorifying violence against innocent Israeli civilians is unacceptable and must not be tolerated. The groups need to apologize and rescind their statement. Otherwise, I expect York University to hold these groups accountable for their actions,” she said.
- With files from The Associated Press