The following commentary is published with the permission of the author. It was originally published by the Times of Israel:
The common thread tying together the murders of Jewish worshippers in a Jerusalem synagogue, the murders of people in the Nigerian towns of Gaba and Doro Gowon, and the murders of Jews and cartoonists last week in Paris is Islamic terrorism.
Incredibly, the student newspaper at York University – the Excalibur – chose to frame its coverage of the Charlie Hebdo massacre around the moral failures of a handful of Orthodox Jewish men. The message given to over 55,000 students in Canada’s third largest university is that, somehow, it’s always about the Jews.
Abdul Malik, the Excalibur’s feature editor, begins his op-ed by citing an example of religious fanaticism. An appropriate example of religion manifested as intolerance would have been the thousands of Yazidi women being raped and killed by ISIS or the decimation of Christian communities in Iraq and Syria, but it seems that because none of these events are connected to the Jews, they aren’t important.
Instead, Malik crafts his response to the Paris terror attacks by condemning the “ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who refuse to sit next to women on airplanes as per their beliefs…”. Never mind that Judaism does not forbid men from sitting next to women on airplanes whereas Islam certainly does condone the murder of those who blaspheme their prophet. According to the Excalibur, refusing a seat on an airplane is analogous to murdering journalists in the name of Allah.
A few sentences later, Malik makes the connection explicit: after describing the gunmen” (not terrorists) who murdered the 12 Charlie Hebdo journalists, he links together the actions of the Orthodox Jewish men and the Paris terrorists in a paragraph that decries the “defence[s] long held by those on the fringes of every faith”. This moral equivalency is heinous but it’s not a surprising statement from an editor who, in his entire op-ed about the Parris terror attacks, does not mention once that it was not only twelve cartoonists who were murdered but also four Jewish men at a kosher grocery store.
We see here that Jewish victims are not relevant to the story that Excalibur wants to tell, but conflating Judaism with Islamic terrorism is.
The article goes on to offer some token outrage toward the censoring of cartoons but doesn’t quite get there. Malik says: “I believe in the freedom of speech but” – and here comes the caveat -“I understand sensitivity towards those who occupy our country, towards the diverse faiths and backgrounds they come from”. He also avows that people are “free to draw, publish, or say what they want…” but negates his assertion with another caveat: “As long as there’s no incitement to hatred”.
Most disturbing is how Malik envisions his “ideal” society: a world “free of radical Islamism, Zionism, or any deeply-held ideology designed to create suffering in those who don’t conform”. What is the connection between Zionism and radical Islam? What is the connection between Zionism and the Charlie Hebdo massacre? There is none. But again, the Jews are somehow always implicated.
Zionism is the restoration of the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland but apparently the world’s “suffering” would cease only when the world is “free[d]” of Zionism – a convenient little euphemism for the destruction of the state of Israel. Malik can’t even argue that his anti-Semitic words are actually directed toward Zionists and not Jews because the very next sentence clarifies that he meant the Orthodox Jewish men described in his first paragraph: “suffering as simple as harassing women on airplanes and as extreme as murdering another human being”. And thus a Canadian campus newspaper scarily starts to read a little bit like the Hamas Charter.
Since student tuition fees automatically finance the Excalibur and there is no opt out process, Jewish students are being compelled to pay for a newspaper that incites against them and threatens their safety and well-being on campus. Moreover, Abdul Malik’s article is not an anomaly; it is a manifestation of the systemic, vitriolic anti-Israel bias at the Excalibur newspaper that has resulted in all pro-Israel op-eds being refused while a “radicalized” alumnus who screams for an intifada on campus is published three times in ten months (A more in-depth examination of the Excalibur newspaper’s systemic bias against Israel can be found here).
In a final ironic twist, the Excalibur op-ed insists that the correct response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre is “publishing our cartoons and reproducing the ones that have had people killed”. But Abdul Malik’s anti-Semitic article proves that this faux demonstration of tolerance is just an empty platitude. Indeed, the cartoon accompanying Malik’s op-ed says “Nous ne sommes pas tous Charlie” (We are not Charlie).
It goes without saying that The Excalibur newspaper is also not #JeSuisJuif.