University Of Toronto Student Newspaper Publishes Four Anti-Israel Articles Within Two Days

Within the first few days of December, the University of Toronto’s Varsity newspaper ran a slew of articles with anti-Israel slants.

The articles attacked every aspect of the Jewish state’s reputation from various different perspectives, some of which seek to stretch and tie in unrelated topics such as sustainability in order to reverse-engineer them into a line of attack against Israel.

Rather than honest journalism, this obsessive and one-sided approach to an issue that personally affects many students and readers is irresponsible and wrong.

In a December 2 opinion column entitled: “Boycotting is about reconciling with our imperfections and simply trying to make change,” author Divine Angubua openly acknowledged the hypocrisy, double standard, and lack of rationale behind singling out Israel for boycotts—an observation shared by the Trudeau government, which has formally recognized the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement as antisemitic in nature.

Nevertheless, Angubua argued that people must still participate in the boycott effort, despite this being the case, stating that “So many places, like Congo, deserve our attention…Boycotting…can get exhausting. That means that our boycotting practice must be specific.”

This is a new low for the BDS movement, let alone for a media outlet choosing to give this drivel a platform. The author is openly admitting to supporting an antisemitic campaign which unfairly singles out the global Jewish community for harassment and double standards, and is encouraging others to participate as well. And the reason given to justify this seemingly indefensible call to action?  “Since the cultural conversation has centered on Palestine, we must focus there first.”  In other words, even though it’s clearly wrong and unfair, the public should boycott the Jews because it’s currently popular to do so?

Another article published that same day entitled: “Israel is hypocritical in pointing out Hamas’ use of unsustainable materials,” by Urooba Shaikh, called Israel “hypocritical” for criticizing climate activist Greta Thunberg for siding with Hamas in the ongoing war, due to the fact that Israel cares about the climate issue while Hamas does not. Shaikh accused Israel of “greenwashing” and claimed that Israel’s military “targets farmlands in Gaza with bombing.”

Every part of this allegation is clearly absurd. Israel has a long history of leading the world on environmental progress, while Hamas has a long history of taking reckless actions that harm the climate. Israeli startups lead the global cleantech industry in various innovations that have revolutionized numerous areas of the field.

When Palestinians first took over the Gaza Strip in 2005 after Israel disengaged its army and citizens from the area, one of its first acts was to burn down the greenhouses left behind by evacuated Israeli farms. Hamas also repeatedly set off heavily-polluting incendiary balloons in its aggressive stunts along the border over the past few years. By simply dismissing this lopsided reality in order to take yet another cheap shot at Israel, the author is nakedly guilty of the exact hypocrisy being alleged by the article.

Worse than the hypocrisy of this article, however, is its malicious lie. Its fundamental claim that Israel “targets” farmland or any other agricultural or natural resources is baseless and false. There is no evidence of Israel intentionally targeting farmlands during war, and there is absolutely no discernable reason why they would want to do so.

A third article entitled: “Human rights icon Kenneth Roth says universities should stop commenting on world events,” written by Jessie Schwalb, singled out the Israel issue for scrutiny when reporting on a lecture by former Human Rights Watch (HRW) director Kenneth Roth, about the role of universities in commenting on global affairs.

A fourth article entitled: “The Second Annual Palestine Salon hosts space for intellectual discussion,” written by Milena Pappalardo, offered a glowing, unquestioningly admiring review of a “Palestine Salon” event without any discussion of the quality of its content. The article quoted one lecturer who ominously argued that the “contextualization of 75 years of what has been happening” helps to make sense of Hamas terrorism, and that “things don’t just happen in a vacuum.” Such moral relativism has been used recently to minimize and otherwise justify Hamas atrocities.

If The Varsity wants to focus a disproportionate amount of attention on the Hamas-Israel conflict, deciding that it is more important than virtually every other issue, that is their right. But in doing so, it is intentionally relegating all other issues and conflicts, to say nothing of the voices of Jewish students, to the sidelines, showing little concern for fairness, accuracy and even honesty.

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