UBC Professor Falsely Claims Antisemitism Being Used To Silence Anti-Israel Critics

November 8, 2023

At a time when Jewish students on university campuses across the Western world are being targeted, isolated, and harassed by anti-Israel activists and with British Columbia’s human rights commissioner calling for action to counter rising antisemitism, Associate Professor Hicham Safieddine of the University of British Columbia (UBC) called for students to stop seeking recourse against those who are making their lives miserable.

In an opinion article for the Ubyssey entitled: “Decolonize Palestine at UBC,” Safieddine falsely claimed that those criticizing Israel or voicing support for Palestinians are being suppressed and punished, and that allegations of antisemitism are merely “false” and an “instrumentalization” meant to silence “non-violent activists.”

He wrote that “calling for an end to racial discrimination based on legalized ethno-religious supremacy and advocating for a single state for all its citizens is hate speech” in the eyes of his critics.

What Safieddine did not share is that “a single state for all its citizens” is a coded term for the elimination of Israel as a Jewish State.

Safieddine is bothered by the fact that UBC formally condemned the barbaric Hamas massacre of more than 1,400 Israeli women, children, babies, and senior citizens—which he refers to simply as an “operation”—and that they did not similarly condemn the civilian casualties in Gaza due to Israel’s defensive military response. This is not only an egregious and shameful moral equivalency, but it downplays the uniquely evil nature of the October 7th attacks—which included some of the most gruesome atrocities ever caught on camera, and represented the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.

Reading his piece in a vacuum, however, one would be left with the false impression that Israel and Hamas are just two equal parties who both kill people. In reality, of course, Hamas targets civilians, kidnaps, beheads, and burns babies in their cribs, uses its own population as human shields for its weapons, fires rockets at populated cities, shoots refugees, and calls openly for the genocide of Jewish people all over the world. Meanwhile, Israel goes out of its way to protect Palestinians in Gaza, sending leaflets, opening humanitarian corridors, and so on.

Over the past month, antisemitic incidents have skyrocketed to historic new highs in much of the world, egged on by hateful Hamas supporters. Yet, once again, if one reads Safieddine’s piece as their only source of information, one could be led to believe that these “activists” have done nothing wrong and are being unfairly silenced for simply voicing their opinions.

Notably, Safieddine does not provide a single specific example of any individuals who he thinks have been unfairly targeted for sympathizing with innocent Palestinians. But a cursory investigation demonstrates that it is Jewish students whose free expression is under attack.

At Cornell University, Jewish institutions were put on lockdown after student chat forums were inundated with messages promising to bring weapons to campus and “slit [the] throat[s]” of Jewish “pig[s],” as well as to “rape” and “throw [Jewish students] off a cliff.” The student behind these threats was arrested. Is this who Safieddine thinks is being unfairly “silence[d] and demonize[d]”? 

Elsewhere, faculty members called Hamas’ mass murders “awesome” and “exhilarating,” while at Stanford a professor separated his Jewish students from the rest of the class to humiliate them and lecture them about how the Holocaust wasn’t that big a deal. Several of these professors have been suspended from their teaching posts. Does Safieddine feel that they should still be lecturing, poisoning minds with hateful drivel and making Jewish students feel unsafe? 

At Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), law students signed a letter explicitly justifying Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack, demonstrating their heinous lack of moral compass. Do private businesses not have the right to hire whomever they choose, and to determine who they feel fits their company values and who does not?

If these are the forms of legitimate “activism” Safieddine is defending, and if those responses are what he considers unfair “silencing,” then perhaps he is not someone whose opinions on antisemitism deserve to be taken seriously.

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