Toronto Star Podcast Gives 17 Minutes For Apologist For Illegal Campus Hatefest To Spout Nonsensical Claims, Unchallenged

In a May 16 episode of Toronto Star podcast This Matters, entitled “Voices from the ground: a glimpse inside Canada’s student encampments,” host Saba Eitizaz spoke to two guests about their observations and commentary regarding the University of Toronto’s illegal anti-Israel encampment.

While Eitizaz started out making at least some effort to summarize the nature of the issue in a balanced manner for the first few minutes (albeit still imperfectly) as she falsely claimed that the “war that’s claimed more than 34,000 Palestinian lives, most of them women and children according to local officials,”  she soon devoted the next 17 minutes straight (out of a 36-minute show) to one guest, Canadian journalist Samira Mohyeddin, who spouted a biased, glorified, and distorted narrative of what the encampment movement is all about. No opponents of the encampment were given a chance to meaningfully express their viewpoints to anywhere near the same extent, nor was there any pushback offered when questionable things were said by Mohyeddin.

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During her 17 minutes of uninterrupted attention, Mohyeddin repeatedly depicted the University of Toronto encampment as a courageous and virtuous “social movement” akin to the anti-Vietnam and anti-Apartheid campus movements of past decades, despite never engaging in the substantive question of whether this comparison is actually legitimate or whether the causes were fundamentally different. Simply noting that past incidents were also disruptive and unpopular does not automatically make this movement morally correct or the same as those, any more so than Vincent Van Gough having lost an ear automatically makes anyone with hearing problems a great painter.

The fact remains that, whether or not individual participants are consciously motivated by hatred of Jews or support for Hamas terrorism, they are adults responsible for their own actions and there is no reason to grant them a pass for unrepentantly participating in a movement that does not hide these aspects of their goals.

Mohyeddin was also completely dismissive of the encampment’s critics, alleging that most of them “have never stepped foot in it” — hilariously ignoring the fact that no one is allowed to enter except those deemed welcome by leaders who have more than proved themselves to have zero tolerance for discussion or competing viewpoints of any kind. She sought to refute critics’ claims that there’s anything wrong with the encampment by speaking glowingly about the various fun activities taking place inside, as if the whole thing isn’t illegal or discriminatory.

Mohyeddin was similarly completely dismissive of the rights and concerns of the rest of the campus community — concerns actively shared by nearly an outright majority of the Canadian public — about the encampment movement’s disruption to their lives. The University of Toronto itself has described the encampment as an “unauthorized” takeover of a communal “shared-use space” in “violat[ion]” of the “fundamental principle of inclusion” by causing “discrimination and harassment” and “exclusion of others.” And this is just the language of the formal, likely heavily legally and politically vetted official statement of the institution. Other observers have described the overt support for terrorism, violence and antisemitic slogans, and total disregard for basic order, respect, and civility that encampment participants are forcibly subjecting the wider community to on a daily basis against their will and against the rules and norms that the rest of them are abiding by.

But Mohyeddin didn’t see any problem here, defending all of this as simply “what an occupation means,” derisively mocking the fact that “people don’t quite get” that “students occupying a space…do not have to allow you in,” failing to note that there is no evidence that the majority of occupiers are students. In fact, on other campuses, the large majority of occupiers were not students at all.

Mohyeddin simply referred to counter protestors in the pejorative brush as being “agitators” and bemoaned the fact that their presence and anger at the bad behavior is “making [the encampment participants] feel unsafe.” As if the victims of their disgusting stunt somehow owe them the comfort of not having to face the natural consequences of their own decisions and actions? Why does one side have an absolute right to protest however they see fit, with no limitations or normal considerations whatsoever, while the other side can’t even “lurk” nearby?

In a display of inverting victimhood, Mohyeddin attacked faculty members who were denied passage into the shared campus space that the encampment has stolen from them, mocking them for saying “I have a right to be here,” calling their requests “aggressive,” and insisting that they should have “wait[ed] for an escort” to comply with the wishes of the encampment. So it’s totally legitimate to break rules when people with one point of view choose to do so, but it’s illegitimate for others — who never consented to this alternate system — to break the rule-breakers’ unauthorized rules?

If The Toronto Star’s goal was to help inform the public, they should have used this podcast platform to engage in critical questions and substantive discussions that add to the marketplace of ideas on this topic and that would bring necessary context to the perspectives of those affected by the recent events on campus, especially that of Jewish and pro-Israel supporters who are on the receiving-end of endless hate and harassment, and not merely offered a mouthpiece for an admirer’s deluded fantasies.

Take action now by sending your considered comments to Saba Eitizaz, The Toronto Star’s podcast co-host and producer at: seitizaz@thestar.ca.

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