Queen’s Journal Columnist Claims Bemoans Queens University’s Refusal To Divest From Israel

A May 27 op-ed by Aysha Tabassum in the The Queen’s Journal, a student newspaper at Queen’s University, entitled “Queen’s must divest from Israel before its institutional death,” served as a crystal clear example of how the radical anti-Israel movement is eroding the integrity of civil discourse.

The article — peppered throughout with typos, grammatical errors, sentence fragments, wildly unsubstantiated assertions, hyperlinks that fail to corroborate claims, self-contradictory statements, and ad-hominem attacks against people and institutions with no relevance to the question at hand — made few actual discernable arguments or points amidst its rambling, incoherent, platitude-laden rant, in a manner so comically ridiculous that it calls into question whether an editor even read this drivel before approving it.

To the extent the column has a thesis, it’s that Queen’s University’s lack of willingness to divest from Israel (something it shares with literally every other university in Canada, at least thus far) somehow means that the school is a horrible, racist, and lackluster academic institution that should probably cease to exist.

It’s hard to know where to begin in terms of dismantling this bizarre claim, because at no point in the piece did Tabassum actually attempt to explain her point beyond the vague headline and the numerous times she disjointedly alluded to it again.

Tabassum made it abundantly clear that she has utter contempt for the institution from which she got a degree, and which gave her the opportunities to launch a legal and journalistic professional journey. She alleged that the university has a “commitment to white supremacist values,” is merely “a home for Canada’s rich and white elite,” an “abhorrent environment,” a “racist institution,” “involve[d] in … genocide,” and a place that people find “increasingly unattractive.”

If that wasn’t enough to drive the point home, she added that the school has an “insidious history … of sacrificing academic integrity in service of white supremacy and classism.” In some of the more childish moments, she called her Alma Mater “fast-crumbling,” “pathetic,” and “distinctly not” a “global leader in academia,” and gleefully celebrated the school’s financial troubles and falling rankings.

Instead of addressing reasons why she considers divestment a good idea, or explaining the connection she alleges it to have with the university’s future demise, she simply linked to unrelated documents from non-credible sources and repeated the assertion as a given.

She claimed that Queens University is “profiting from human rights violations in Palestine,” despite linking to a document that argues for cutting relationships with universities based in Israel. She baselessly asserted that cutting ties with Israel would have positive economic consequences for the university, while also noting that Columbia University in New York City is currently at risk of losing significant funds due to this extremism, angering donors.

She asserted that divestment would reflect “the concerns of the student population,” while admitting that the turnout at campus anti-Israel events has involved “small numbers.” And, unsurprisingly, as with most intellectually lazy anti-Israel hit pieces, she casually threw around buzzwords like “genocide,” “apartheid,” and “colonial[ism]” as factual statements, without any attempt to justify their invocation despite widespread controversy and counter-evidence against their legitimacy in this context.

Tabassum also exhibited a stunning level of hypocrisy, double standard, and lack of self-awareness. She complained that school administrators criticized her editorial approach to these sensitive and complex issues as “polarizing,” not engaging with the dissent in any serious way but instead blanketly denouncing it as an example of “exclusion and vitriol” targeting “students of colour,” “Islamophobic accusations [against] any student who dared speak about Palestine,” a “silenc[ing of] free speech,” and a “condoning [of] harassment.”

Yet, barely a few paragraphs away, she totally dismissed concerns of antisemitism as “wrongful allegations,” and similarly dismissed concerns over the violent, discriminatory, and chaotic impact of this movement on other campuses as a “guise.” She simultaneously acknowledged that universities “require diversity in thought and perspective to thrive,” yet lambasted the university’s official neutrality on this divisive issue as “an intellectual failure.”

In her column in The Queen’s Journal, Aysha Tabassum alleged that she and numerous peers have experienced racism at Queen’s. There is no excuse for racist behavior, and any allegations she has about such incidents or policies should be thoroughly investigated and addressed by the appropriate authorities.

Unfortunate personal experiences, however, do not give someone license to spew inflammatory nonsensical gibberish and advocate absurd, counterproductive policies that threaten the inclusion of other minority communities. Nor does it explain how the school’s failure to adopt her preferred economic policy will lead to “destroying itself.”

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