Last May, Students in Solidarity with Human Rights (SPHR) at McGill University in Montreal accused “Zionist students” of using a “Blacklist” to “terrorize” pro-Palestine activists.
SPHR published the names of six student union leaders “who may have known about, had access to, or contributed to the list.” The group also alleged that McGill was complicit and illegally monitoring Palestinian Arab students. The sinister index has supposedly been around “for decades,” passed down through generations of Zionist Jewish students to undermine “anti-Israel” student union candidates.
If the list exists, it has not been working. Anti-Israel students have prevailed in college elections, and the Student’s Society of McGill University (SSMU)’s 2021 “divestment” policy specifically targets Israel.
Nevertheless, the McGill student union investigated SPHR’s claims. Apparently, they did not find anything. On November 11, SPHR denounced the inquiry as a “sham,” lambasting the investigators for asking pro-Palestinian activists to reveal their identities despite assurances of confidentiality. Yet, while SPHR withheld its sources’ identities for fear of retribution, it simultaneously circulated unfounded, serious indictments against several student leaders.
The organization said it keeps its sources anonymous because McGill, in cahoots with Zionist students, retaliates against pro-Palestine campaigners. Although the US and Canadian governments may have been wary of Arab nationalists in the 1960s — when many were avowedly Marxist and affiliated with terrorists — no one was harassed or punished in any way for participating in November’s “BDS Week.” And being anti-Israel on US and Canadian college campuses is becoming not just acceptable, but celebrated.
SPHR’s social media is public, and anyone can see who follows them and signs their petitions. Even if a McGill student’s name appeared on a website like Canary Mission, this does not mean anyone at SSMU was behind it. SPHR is weaving a web of lies to spread libelous rumors about “vicious, racist” Zionists, and how they are attacking the “fundamental rights” of pro-Palestinian students. Such rhetoric is dangerous, and echoes antisemitic tropes that Jews control the media and national governments — ideas that have provoked threats of violence at McGill in the past.
If SPHR is so sure the pro-Israel “Blacklist” is real, they should file an Access to Information (ATI) request with McGill’s secretariat. The group could also request intervention from the Canadian Justice Department. If SPHR cannot back up its claims, it has slandered people, and those responsible should be held accountable.
In May 2021, SPHR started a petition calling for McGill to classify pro-Israel speech as racism. They claim that McGill is “terrorizing” pro-Palestinian activists, yet they asked thousands of students to sign an anti-Zionist screed that anyone can find, download, and distribute.
There may not be an anti-Palestinian blacklist, but SPHR has itself created a list of all those who hate Israel. How ironic.
Jonah Fried is a history student at McGill University, a former representative to the Students’ Society of McGill University, and a 2021-2022 Committee for Accurate Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) Fellow.
This article was originally published in The Algemeiner.