For Canadian universities, the Palestinian is the ‘toxic other’ | Opinions

Nearly every university in Canada has a statement or document outlining its commitment to combating racism. As social organizations that claim to advance knowledge and promote a more just, inclusive, free and democratic society, universities have openly positioned themselves over the past few years as leaders. take an active part in the fight against racism.

Sadly, when you look at university policy or talk to faculty, students, and staff who are racist, you quickly realize that most colleges exhibit disdain. shallow understanding and practice of anti-racism.

Universities are anti-racism the same way multinational corporations are anti-racist: they advance, reinforce, expand, and benefit from structural racism while proclaiming claims to be anti-racist, which in their actions simply means “tolerance”. of people of color.

As a result, not only are universities failing to address racism in society at large, but they can’t even rationally address it on campuses across Canada, where structured racism remains the norm, as Black and Indigenous scholars have taught us for decades.

Anti-Palestinian racism is another example of this. In a report published in April, the Arab Canadian Bar Association determined Anti-Palestinian racism is “a form of anti-Arab racism intended to silence, exclude, erase, prejudice, defame, or degrade the humanity of Palestinians or their stories. .” The extensive report, prepared by Dania Majid, reveals the prevalence of anti-Palestinian racism in a number of organizations in Canada.

Of particular importance is the way Palestinian stories are removed and excluded. These are stories developed and enhanced by Palestinian scholars, artists, activists, political leaders, communities and civil society organizations, and enable us to understand violence. , the oppression, deportation, displacement and deprivation that Palestinians have endured for decades, as well as the Palestinian aspiration for liberation and freedom.

It is important to emphasize here, as I have argued before in an academic paper article, was a prominent feature of anti-Palestinian racism in academia: the expulsion of Palestinians critical of Zionism and Israel. This is a criticism – also accepted by non-Palestinians – based on and derived from the Palestinian experience of the Zionist project, and a criticism that clearly and convincingly shows itself. restore, since the 1910s, what is the Zionist project. /and can just be: a racist settler colonial project to violently expel indigenous Palestinians from their land, erasing their history, presence, aspirations and identity surname.

Like Israel’s expulsion of Palestinians from their land, academic institutions in Canada – a settler colony that is a staunch ally and supporter of Israel’s settler colonial project – actively expel Palestinian critics from their academic halls.

A report recently released by Independent Jewish Voices documents this experience of Palestinians and their allies on a Canadian university campus.

100 pages report was written by Sheryl Nestel and Rowan Gaudet, who collected about 80 testimonies from Palestinian, Jewish and other racial scholars and students describing experiences of persecution, gagging, harassment, intimidation and marginalization they face in Canadian schools.

The stories in the report show what the deportation of Palestinian critics looks like in practice. The most prominent way this expulsion was accomplished was by criticizing the Palestinians as anti-Semitism and violence. Over the decades, Israel and its supporters have redefined anti-Semitism to include Palestinian criticism of Zionism and Israel, most recently in promoting the The working meaning of the International Holocaust Memorial Coalition on anti-Semitism.

Instead of being framed for what it really is – the call for non-colonial liberation and freedom – the critique of Palestinians is tied to anti-Semitism, making Palestinians what I call “other toxic”: “the other” only brings toxicity to the academy for its racist, fake, and outrageous claims that Palestinians have a bigoted and violent nature towards Jews.

The pervasiveness of this approach – laughable but harmful and violent from a fundamental point of view – is evident in the report, which states: “Unfounded allegations of malicious intent Judaism and terrorist support are often targeted at pro-Palestinian scholars and activists. It is noteworthy that Palestinians, Muslims and non-Arab participants appear to have suffered the consequences of direct attacks on their scholarship and activism. The Palestinian students and faculty interviewed felt most acutely the emotional impact of harassment and repression. Jewish activists are not immune to attack and are often described by opponents as ‘kapos’ or ‘self-hating Jews’.”

The report concluded that the result of all this repression, eradication and deportation was a “chilling effect” in Canada that discouraged open and honest discussion on the issue of Palestinian liberation.

And while Palestinians and their supporters are experiencing this structural racism, one might wonder: what are Canadian universities doing when it comes to anti-Palestinian racism This is not resolved and controlled?

We need not try to imagine where Canadian universities stand on this question, and we need not pay attention to what they say, but to what they do. Take this recent example as a real indicator of our position. In August of this year, many Canadian university presidents went on a trip to Israel. Not much is known about this trip. It was never announced before it took place, and participating Canadian universities have remained silent about the trip to this day.

The Canadian universities believed to have attended neither confirmed nor denied their participation. We don’t even know how many university presidents and/or senior members of the administration actually went, but Israeli organizations yes announced that Concordia UniversityDalhousie University, University of Manitoba, McGill University, University of Ottawa, Simon Fraser University, University of Waterloo, Western University, York University, and Executive Director at U15 Canada’s group of research-intensive universities are among the participants.

We know that they were hosted by Israeli organizations and lobbying groups, and certainly featured Israeli state propaganda stories during their visit – for example: Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East; Israel is the sole guarantor of security for all Jews everywhere; The West needs to work with Israel to help it survive against hostile and anti-Semitic Arabs; look at the amazing research done by such a small country besieged by backward and violent Arabs; Israel can be an asset for research in Canada; and the rest of it.

These Canadian universities, some of which have established close ties and ties to Israeli institutions, claim to be anti-racist on the one hand and act in accordance with the apartheid regime on the other. the apartheid. In other words, they are complicit with racist colonialism and settlers while telling us they are anti-racist and committed to decolonization.

A group of academics in Canada are asking for answers to some basic question: Why didn’t Canadian universities announce this trip? Why are Canadian universities working with lobbying groups that interfere with the academic work of Canadian universities? And why have these university presidents chosen to ignore calls to boycott Israeli academic institutions that have been propagated by Palestinian scholars, students, and indeed in many sectors of Palestinian civil society? clear reach?

Despite the efforts of a group of dedicated academics, university presidents from the above-named universities, blatantly of course, simply ignored these questions, just as they did. ignore and continue to ignore the experiences of anti-Palestinian racism experienced by many faculty members. , students and staff are facing on their campus. And this should not come as a surprise.

The fact of the matter is that Canadian universities are part of a settler colonial structure that aims to remove and deport natives in the Canadian settler’s colony and in the Israeli settler’s colony. Very little can be expected from these universities, for all we have ever received were shallow and vague commitments nothing more than what liberal European thought and institutions always offered. : fragments of inclusion and equality, also known as liberal tolerance.

The logic of liberal tolerance is simple. It says, “I will not use direct violence or roughness on you, but only gently, calmly and quietly, and you must accept this as the price to pay to enter my lobby.” The term “liberal tolerance” may have disappeared from university policies and documents, but it is still the logic that guides and shapes university actions.

The actions, in this case, were clear: Canadian universities were not interested in naming, let alone addressing, against Palestinian racism; and not only that, Canadian universities are directly involved in anti-Palestinian racist activity as they consider Palestinian demands for freedom and liberation through boycotts not only unworthy they consider but also essentially violent and blind claims.

But despite all efforts to eliminate and poison the Palestinian “others,” scholars and students committed to anti-racism and decolonization actually see through the illusion and point to claims against them. university because of chimaera that it is, not only in the case of anti-Palestinian racism but also in other forms of racism.

As university administrators built relationships between settler colonies and consolidated the university within systems of racist and settler colonialism, scholars and students alike members are building their own relationships and cementing their positions as real carriers of the anti-racism and non-colonial project. We are not proud of our multi-million dollar partnerships and contracts, but we are proud of what the top management of these universities does not have. It is something more substantive, more real, more enduring and worthy of our commitment and effort: an honest pursuit of truth and justice.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.


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