In Hill Times Column, Concordia University Professor Attempts To Label Opponents Of Islamic Terrorism With “Anti-Palestinian” Racist Label

June 18, 2024

On June 6, the Hill Times published an opinion column penned by Sarah Ghabrial, an associate professor at Concordia University, who is the head of the university’s new task force sub-committee on anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia. In her piece entitled: “Committee hearings on antisemitism, Islamophobia risk causing more harm to campus safety,” Ghabrial took aim at the ongoing House Justice and Human Rights Committee hearings on antisemitism and Islamophobia, claiming that “the entire premise of the hearings suggests that they will produce more harm than safety on Canadian campuses.”

Her critique? She claimed that “by treating ‘antisemitism,’ ‘Islamophobia,’ and even ‘safety’ as siloed, unchanging concepts, the committee will miss forms of oppression produced at their intersection and beyond their scope.”

In defence of her point, Ghabrial unsurprisingly began with Islamophobia, and never found the time to get around to antisemitism, beyond claiming without evidence that “critique of Israel is frequently mischaracterized as ‘antisemitism.’”

She claimed that the only way to make sure the committee does not create more harm than good, is to begin all discussion of Islamophobia on campus with discussion of anti-Palestinian racism. While the anti-Israel obsession is all-encompassing for ideologically-driven anti-Israel activists, the idea that one cannot have a meaningful discussion about Islamophobia unless one centres it around the Palestinian cause should be very telling about how this crowd sees the world.

If the single most fundamental issue to the Muslim identity is that of “Palestine”, how can one suggest that it’s not simply a religious war against Jews? More importantly, much of their rhetoric about the Jewish State hinges on the idea that Jews are ‘colonizers’ to the land, and that those who try to suggest that there is simply no separating Jews from the land of Israel – of Judaism from Zionism – are “not real Jews.”

She quoted a definition of anti-Palestinian racism as being “the denial of Palestinian existence, history, and rights, and the defamation and smearing of Palestinians and their allies as, inter alia, antisemites, terrorists, and non-democrats.” According to this definition, would it be Islamophobic to point out that it is simply historical fact that Arabs arrived as colonizers to Israel in the 7th century, and Islam spread primarily through the sword? That the denial of Jewish connection to the land, as evidenced by history, archaeology and genetics is, indeed, antisemitic (and those who spread this misinformation are, themselves, engaged in antisemitism)? That calls for ‘intifada’ in Canada are calls for terrorism, and that waving the flags of Hamas and Hezbollah, as the public has seen at so many protests on campus and in the streets, is support for designated terrorist entities? That advocating for the introduction of Islamic Sharia law worldwide (as Hamas does, and those who support Hamas are complicit in) is, by definition, anti-democratic?

Making plain statements of verifiable fact is not Islamophobia, nor does all Islamophobia begin and end with the Palestinian cause. If the argument is that it’s fundamental to the Palestinian identity to be allowed to advocate for terrorist entities, to deny Jewish history, culture and indigeneity, and to call for violent jihad world-wide, and that those who would deny them this right are themselves racist, then there are bigger problems at play here. One group’s right to freedom of belief and expression cannot, and should not, take priority over another’s right to life and safety.

But then, Ghabrial believes that safety is a subjective idea, so perhaps that’s the problem. She argued that “safety” is a concept, not an absolute state, and that it’s weaponized against anti-Israel protesters. That the real victims of ‘unsafety’ on campus are those who have set up encampments with signs like ‘glory to the martyrs’, ‘f*ck zionists’, and ‘globalize the intifada’. The victims are those giving Nazi salutes and screaming Jewish conspiracy theories. The victims are not the Jewish students being barred from freely moving about campus or having their lives threatened, or being beaten for being Jewish, nor are they the innocent students caught in the middle whose exams and graduations have been impacted by encampments. No, the real ‘unsafety’ is being arrested and “dragged away by police”.

Ghabrial claimed that the only way to ensure safety for all is to “not pit students against each other.” A noble goal in theory, but one that cannot be accomplished when encampments calling for violent intifada on campus are allowed to remain. Students have already been pitted against each other, and the suggestion that those wishing not to be subjected to violence and intimidation are the problem, that they ought to find a way to coexist, is gaslighting in the extreme.

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