McGill Tribune Rejects Pro-Israel Column Submitted By Jewish Student Saying Zionism Doesn’t “Align With Our Values”

On March 8, Claire Frankel, a Jewish student at McGill University and an HonestReporting Canada Campus Media Fellow, submitted a column (click here to read it in full) for publication to The McGill Tribune entitled: “Queer McGill is not a safe space for Jews,” but the campus newspaper rejected it, stating on March 26 (over two weeks after the column was originally submitted) that her article “doesn’t align with our values as a paper” as “Zionism is a settler-colonial ideology that has perpetuated the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.”

In so doing, the McGill Tribune has adopted a policy of censoring pro-Zionist commentaries, which HonestReporting Canada considers hateful, antisemitic and antithetical to free speech and the basic principles of fair, accurate, and objective journalism.

On March 26, McGill Tribune Opinion Editors Chloé Kichenane & Kareem Abuali (who we previously condemned for writing an op-ed in the Tribune calling for a boycott of Sabra foods due to its support for Israel), sent Claire Frankel the following email:

“Your article doesn’t align with our values as a paper. We’re not going to be able to publish it.

Zionism is a settler-colonial ideology that has perpetuated the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

There are almost six million Palestinians that are either living in exile without the right to return or are internally displaced, disenfranchised and oppressed.

It would be at the expense of our journalistic integrity and credibility to ignore these truths.”

HonestReporting Canada (HRC) condemns the Tribune’s policy as being discriminatory in nature and hostile to the concept of free expression. Importantly, the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism considers an action antisemitic by “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination…”

“The official email response from the Tribune is unabashedly discriminatory towards Jews by its flagrantly false definition of Zionism as being a “settler-colonial ideology,” when in actuality, Zionism sought to reconstitute the nation state of the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland, a place where Jews have lived for three thousand years. Zionism is merely the collective movement of Jewish self-determination in their historic homeland,” said Mike Fegelman, HonestReporting Canada’s Executive Director.

“By denying a voice to a Jewish student because she dares to identify as a progressive Jew supportive of Israel and Zionism, The Tribune has adopted a bigoted policy that discriminates based on a student’s Jewish identity. This policy has racist overtones and xenophobic dimensions.”

Additionally, the Tribune’s statement that Zionism has committed “ethnic cleansing of Palestine” is demonstrably false, with the population of Arabs living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea having grown from 1.37 million in 1948 to an estimated 7.2 million in 2020 according to official Palestinian statistics – a far cry from anything resembling ethnic cleansing.

This is not an isolated incident from the McGill Tribune, which HonestReporting Canada has long exposed for publishing anti-Israel disinformation.

Ironically, while The McGill Tribune’s opinion editors portray themselves as defenders of “journalistic integrity,” they have effectively silenced a female, minority voice from speaking out about discrimination she has personally experienced during her time at university.

The opinion column which Frankel attempted to submit, “Queer McGill is not a safe space for Jews,” was a first-person perspective on how the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) movement has claimed to be a progressive movement, but which actually discriminates against Jews.

In her column, Frankel shares that in 2022, she was invited to speak at an interfaith panel at McGill University, hosted by Queer McGill and the McGill Office of Religion and Spiritual Life, and that she was “so excited for this opportunity where I could discuss the intricacies of my identity as both a Jew and a Queer woman,” but the “same month I was singled out by one of the organizers of Queer McGill and asked not to speak about Zionism at the event in order not to upset anyone else who would be speaking on the panel.”

This is not the first time that a student publication at McGill University has rejected a Jewish student’s submission based on their connection to Israel.

In 2016, The McGill Daily made official its policy of not publishing articles seen as being supportive of Zionism, which HRC and other Jewish groups condemned at the time. Three years later, at the beginning of the 2019 academic year, the Daily once again published its official view that Zionism represents “a racist attitude and violent practice against Palestinians.” In response, students Michael Aarenau and Josh Shapiro submitted a rebuttal to The McGill Daily, which was refused by the publication.

Only after McGill University’s administration intervened did The McGill Daily publish the rebuttal, albeit with a separate apology that it was forced to publish it due to “administrative interference.”

As with The McGill Daily’s refusal to publish pro-Israel content, The McGill Tribune is similarly engaging in reckless discrimination against Jewish students on campus, who are only expressing support for Israel and Zionism, the Jewish People’s collective movement of self-determination. Importantly, The McGill Tribune receives mandatory funding from students, who are not able to opt out of the fees of $0.87 per member, per term.

“The McGill Tribune claims it seeks to elevate marginalized voices but instead, it silences those whose experiences don’t fit their own narrative,” said Claire Frankel.

HonestReporting Canada calls on The McGill Tribune to immediately reverse its decision, to apologize, and to publish Claire Frankel’s column in its entirety.

Separately, we have filed a complaint with McGill University, requested a meeting with senior administrators and have also submitted our grievances with the Conseil de presse du Québec (Quebec Press Council).

Take action now by condemning the McGill Tribune for its bigoted and antisemitic policy.

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