HRC / AVI Campus Media Fellow Published In The Jerusalem Post: Defying the Bronfman Blockade

On March 18, 2024, one of our Campus Media Fellows, Eleanor Greenspan, was published in The Jerusalem Post about the blockade by pro-Palestinian protestors, who attempted to block students from attending classes at the Bronfman Building at McGill University, due to the Bronfman family being Jewish and its ties to Israel.

Not only were the protesters blocking a school building, but they were doing so while spreading hate and misinformation.

Defying the Bronfman Blockade

By: Eleanor Greenspan

On Thursday, February 22, McGill students on their way to classes in the Bronfman Building or coffee at the Couche-Tard were faced with pro-Palestinian groups blockading multiple entrances to the building.

That morning, McGill Alert and Communications sent emails informing students that some classes had been moved to Zoom and others were canceled. Students attempting to attend class in the Bronfman Building were penalized by groups of students spreading hate and misinformation. As a Jewish and Israeli student, I, for one, will continue to purchase coffee from the Bronfman Couche-Tard, while proudly wearing my Star of David necklace.

This was not the first time that groups were chanting against Israel on the McGill campus – specifically against McGill’s student exchange program with Israel’s Hebrew University of Jerusalem. However, this was the first radical protest right at the doors of a building funded by the Jewish Bronfman family.

In mid-February, a pro-Palestinian protest took place in front of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, a medical intuition initially founded to cater to Jewish patients and doctors, when no other hospital would allow a Jewish doctor to practice.

All students wishing to attend classes on Thursday morning were blockaded by anti-Israel protesters. Whether students agreed with the anti-Israel groups or not, they were not able to enter their classes. As a McGill student, I strongly emphasize that it should be our right to attend class as scheduled.

Protests at McGill: inappropriate actions and antisemitism claims

A school building houses student learning and working faculty members. It is completely inappropriate and goes against McGill’s policy and city laws to block an entrance or exit to a building.

Protesting directly in front of Jewish-funded or Jewish-catered institutions makes it harder for groups to claim they are not antisemitic. The anti-Israel groups radicalized their cause by inappropriately taking that right away from students.

Not only were the protesters blocking a school building, but they were doing so while spreading hate and misinformation. In The Gazette, a representative from a pro-Palestinian group at McGill was quoted saying that they chose to protest in front of Bronfman because of the faculty’s “long history of complicity in the occupation of Palestine.”

In reality, the Bronfman family’s only tie to Israel appears to be the CRB Foundation created by Charles Rosner Bronfman in 1986, which has since funded visits to Israel for young Jewish adults.

I also think that it is important to note that earlier this month, a Jewish Canadian cyclist’s invitation to speak at a women’s event was rescinded because she lived in Israel and served in the Israel Defense Forces as is required by most citizens.

In both circumstances, we have a Jewish person or Jewish-funded building being attacked, not based on the present war in the Middle East, but simply based on the fact that they are Jewish.

Additionally, the protesters held tall banners pressing McGill to “stop funding genocide” as they chanted for a violent Intifada targeting Zionist people. This is nothing new, since the October 7 terrorist attacks, McGill SPHR has ruthlessly targeted the Jewish community.

By October 8, they were protesting around Montreal chanting “Free Palestine” and soon after, hanging up antisemitic flyers around campus. They called the October 7 terrorist attack “resistance” claiming that the “Zionist entity has intensified attacks on Gaza,” while omitting the fact that over a thousand Israelis were murdered, wounded, or kidnapped.

There continue to be over 100 people from Israel held hostage in Gaza.

McGill pro-Palestinian groups choose to omit these facts about the war in the Middle East, but many Jewish students such as myself feel that it is their mission to fill these gaps.

On February 22, a group of proud Jewish students and their allies staged a peaceful counterprotest and tabling outside the Bronfman Building, where they sang, danced, and prayed together for the safety of Israel and all of its civilians. Even if many Jewish students and Montrealers were disappointed by McGill’s silence towards the pro-Palestinian protesters on Thursday, the Jewish community is never afraid to stand for peace and justice.

Eleanor Greenspan is an undergraduate student at McGill University studying anatomy and cell biology and a campus media fellow with HonestReporting Canada and Allied Voices for Israel.


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