In North American universities, the right to a “safe space” free from dissenting or controversial ideas is, regrettably, becoming sacrosanct. Speech is policed for any statement that could be construed as insensitive or politically incorrect. In light of the widespread tendency to censor even the most innocuous of statements, it is critical to distinguish between speech that merely offends and speech that clearly incites.
At York University, where I am a student, the York Federation of Students (YFS) adheres to politically – based censorship with draconian zeal, earning a “F” grade on the 2015 Campus Freedom Index. Though the YFS might justify its infringement of academic freedom on the basis of upholding diversity, tolerance and acceptance, these values are applied with glaring double standards when it pertains to Jewish and pro-Israel students.
Case in point: the mural in the York University Student Centre that is behind media mogul Paul Bronfman’s decision to end his support of York’s film program.
The mural depicts a man in a keffiyeh holding two rocks in his hands. His scarf is adorned with the Palestinian flag and a map that fails to demarcate the borders between Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. The words “peace” and “justice” appear below in multiple languages.
Why do Bronfman and Jewish students find this mural so disturbing?
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This article was originally published in the Times of Israel by York University CAMERA Fellow Danielle Shachar.