University Of Toronto Student Newspaper Publishes Multiple Anti-Israel Articles, Including A Justification Of Terrorism

Following Hamas’ unprecedented mega-terrorist attack on October 7, a litany of news outlets and commentators have sought to reframe the attack, away from being a horrific and indefensible assault on innocent Israeli civilians, seeking to pivot towards the baseless claim that Israel is somehow responsible for Hamas’ decision to murder men, women and children in southern Israel.

In a slew of recent columns in The Varsity, the student newspaper at the University of Toronto, a crop of writers joined this cavalcade of ignorance.

One column entitled: “The Western response to the Israel-Palestine conflict is hypocritical,” by author Raafia Shahid, described the Israeli civilians massacred by Hamas as “Israeli settler civilians,” despite the reality that they were in southern Israel, on land that is universally acknowledged in international law as part of Israel.

Shahid sneeringly referred to Israel as “the Zionist state,” writing that while Hamas’ murder of innocent people is “saddening and deplorable,” so is the Israeli military’s killing of Palestinians since 2008, making no distinction whatsoever between civilians and Hamas terrorist targets.

Shahid continued her column by calling Israel’s independence in 1948 as a “catastrophe,” making her position clear that the Jewish State has no right to exist. While Shahid may be a student at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, her positions chillingly mirror Hamas’ murderous statements against Israel.

Another column entitled:  “U of T departments’ silence on Palestine displays immense cowardice,” by author Fatima Zahra Mohammed, a graduate student in urban planning, made the indefensible claim that Israel is guilty of “75 years of occupation” (ie since its independence in 1948), and is “an apartheid state that is breaking international law to wipe out an indigenous population.”

Notwithstanding Mohammed’s remarkable ability to fit so much absurdity into a single sentence, multiple falsehoods strung together do not constitute truth.

Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People, who are indigenous to Judea, today making up part of the land of Israel. For three thousand years, and despite many attempts to erase their presence and memory, the Jews have continued to live in their historic and ancestral homeland. Consequently, Israel cannot illegally occupy its own land.

Israel is a liberal democracy offering equal rights to all its citizens, and the Palestinian Authority’s adamant refusal to make peace with Israel is the root cause for the lack of a Palestinian state, not Israel’s non-existent “apartheid.” Neither is Israel seeking to “wipe out” any population, as evidenced by the remarkable population growth of the Palestinians since 1948.

In another column entitled: “We have to acknowledge that Hamas’ recent attack did not occur in a vacuum,” writer Lina Obeidat, a first-year student studying social sciences, attempted to convince readers that when Hamas massacred 1,400 innocent people in southern Israel, ranging from babies to the elderly, whose only crime was being Jewish inside Israel, that was no different than Israel defending itself against those demonic Islamist terrorists.

In fact, lest there be any doubt, Obeidat went further, writing that “Until liberation and return become a reality, Palestinians will have every reason to resist.” Such justification for terrorism expressed by Obeidat is more than just morally reprehensible, but supremely self-defeating: the victims of Hamas’ brutality aren’t just Israelis, but the 2.2 million Palestinians inside Gaza, who will continue to suffer as long as Hamas controls their lives with an iron fist.

In another article entitled: “U of T Israeli and Palestinian students process the violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip,” author Jessie Schwalb provided an extensively misleading picture of Hamas terrorism against Israel, falsely writing that on October 7, “violence broke out between the Israeli government and Hamas,” rewriting the terrorist attack as if it were a tit-for-tat military exchange between two sides and not a bloody massacre of innocent civilians.

Schwalb made a number of false allegations against Israel, including the claim that the country “expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in 1948,” when in reality, a huge number left as a result of pressure from Arab leaders, not Israel. Such unfounded declarations are more than just an affront to history; they serve as the basis for the ongoing delegitimization of Israel by anti-Israel detractors, as well as the justification for ongoing terrorism by Hamas and its supporters.

The University of Toronto is one of the world’s leading post-secondary institutions, and its student newspaper must uphold editorial standards which, while providing free expression to its contributors, do not allow itself to become a cesspool of hatred, justification for Islamist terrorism, and kindergarten-level political commentary.

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