On Wednesday last week, the University of Windsor Jewish Students Association (JSA), an Emet for Israel supported organization, brought Ishmael Khaldi, an Israeli Bedouin diplomat, to campus to speak about Bedouin and minority rights in Israel. This provided an excellent opportunity to open up a respectful dialogue about the Arab-Israeli conflict, which is sorely lacking on our campus and many others throughout Ontario. Unfortunately, the University’s Palestinian Solidarity Group (PSG), an anti-Israel organization that vehemently opposes any kind of dialogue, did exactly that. They protested the event by organizing dozens of people to attend to shout down the speaker with obscene comments about him and Israel while “walking out” in defiance. This conduct explicitly violates the University of Windsor Student Code of Conduct, which states as a fundamental principle the “civility of expression in word and deed” (s. 1) and which prohibits the “[i]ntentional obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary proceedings, or other University activities, including public service functions, and other authorized activities on University premises” (s. 3(B)(ii)).
Fast forward to Friday, when Paul Chislett, a host on the campus-based radio station CJAM, covered the event. Except his “coverage” consisted entirely of interviewing members of the PSG, ironically giving a voice to the people who attempted to prevent a dialogue instead of the people who tried to start one. Mr. Chislett didn’t even deign it necessary to let the JSA know about the interview, although he was happy to read out word-for-word the JSA’s description of the event and our explanation of what the Bedouin are from our Facebook page. What was most astonishing was the amount of anti-Semitic sentiment that Mr. Chislett allowed to be openly stated on his radio program. For example, he let his guests from the PSG falsely and slanderously state that there is a “class system” in Israel and that the “elitist government” is preventing a two-state solution. Most egregiously, he let the interviewees directly compare Zionists to Neo-Nazis and the KKK. I am disgusted and outraged by these lies about my people and the state of Israel, and I am shocked that Mr. Chislett and CJAM allowed these remarks to go uncontested on their station during a program that supposedly stands for social justice.
Let’s set the record straight. Zionism is an indigenous rights movement which supports the self-
determination of Jews in their homeland. It does not oppose Palestinian rights, and to compare it to Nazism or the KKK is as absurd as it is offensive. Israel is a liberal democracy with equal rights for all of its citizens – including the Arabs who make up 21% of its population – and to claim that there is a “class system” in Israel is outrageous. Israel has repeatedly over the past six decades made peace offers for a two-state solution, most recently in 2008, while Palestinian leaders have consistently rejected peace and opted for terrorism instead. By openly allowing false and anti-Semitic remarks to be made on his radio show and in many instances agreeing with these remarks, Mr. Chislett is guilty of sloppy journalism if not outright bigotry.