The good name of McGill University, a world-class institution in Montreal, is being ruthlessly and shamelessly besmirched by a cabal of narrow-minded, self-absorbed and myopic ideologues subverting the hallowed principles of fair-minded journalism and free speech.
McGill’s student newspaper, The McGill Daily, recently announced it will not publish articles which “promote a Zionist worldview, or any other ideology which we consider to be oppressive.”
Continuing in this noxious vein, the announcement added, “While we recognize that, for some, Zionism represents an important freedom project, we also recognize that it functions as a settler-colonial ideology that perpetuates the displacement and the oppression of the Palestinian people.”
The newspaper published this self-serving missive after McGill students lodged a complaint that pro-Israel pieces were not being accepted for publication due a “a culture of antisemitism.”
This is a serious accusation, as the newspaper rightfully acknowledged in response: “The Daily editorial board takes allegations of antisemitism seriously, as we recognize that antisemitism is a persistent and pervasive reality of our society. Two of our editors met with the complainants, and the editorial board discussed the complaint. However, upon reviewing this complaint, we found that it largely rested on the conflation of anti-Zionism and antisemitism, which we understand to be distinct from one another.”
The statement, in a condescending sop to Jewish students, went on to say that the newspaper, in the future, would publish articles “relating to the Montreal Jewish community.”
It’s encouraging that the editorial board recognized the persistence and pervasiveness of antisemitism, a pathological defect that afflicts even civilized societies. But it’s discouraging that the editors were unable to grasp the essence of an important truth, namely that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are not necessarily different and can be one and the same under certain circumstances.
One can be critical of Israel’s aggressive West Bank settlement construction program and its short-sighted policies toward the Palestinians without being antisemitic. But when critics go beyond such criticism, calling into question the very legitimacy of Israel’s existence, they’ve crossed a red line and entered questionable terrain.
The classic definition of anti-Zionism — the denial of the Jewish people’s right to statehood in their ancestral homeland in Israel — clicks into place at this juncture. This is antisemitism in its subtlest yet purest form, and there is definitely no “conflation” here of anti-Zionism and antisemitism.
Judging by their grossly inaccurate description of Zionism as “a settler-colonial ideology that perpetuates the displacement and the oppression of the Palestinian people,” one can safely assume they favor the creation of a binational state in Israel’s place.
At the end of the day, this controversy is not about Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which are a security and moral burden on Israel, as well as an obstacle to a resolution of the Arab-Israeli dispute and the establishment of Palestinian statehood.
What this is really about is anti-Zionism, the stubborn refusal of The McGill Daily to accept a two-state solution in the service of peace and stability in the Middle East. Let’s be clear. There is no other practical solution that can realistically satisfy the needs of both Jews and Palestinians.
It’s totally immaterial and irrelevant that the editors have promised to run stories about Montreal’s Jewish community when they’re ideologically committed to Israel’s destruction and intent on blocking the publication of pro-Israel stories in The McGill Daily.
By any yardstick of decency, fairness and thoroughness, McGill’s student newspaper should reflect the polyglot composition of the university’s student body rather than the blatantly biased views of its obviously pro-Palestinian, pro-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions movement) editorial board.
Clearly, the editors have an obligation and a duty to publish diverse viewpoints. In plain language, they should scrupulously observe the fundamental tenets of impartial journalism. They should not be permitted to convert The McGill Daily into a propaganda sheet for rejectionist organizations like Hamas. If they must, let them publish anti-Israel articles, provided they also print complementary pro-Israel pieces.
This is what the spirit of even-handed journalism and democracy demands from The McGill Daily. Nothing less will do.