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Galloway Talk Prompts Campus Campaign Against Pro-Palestine Groups

Zionists target campus groups over Galloway event and the Canadian Boat to Gaza

by Isaac Oommen

UBC Hillel House
UBC Hillel House

Also posted by isaac:

On November 22 George Galloway spoke in Vancouver after courts overturned Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's attempts to keep him out of the country. Organized by a number of groups like Solidarity with Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), a University of British Columbia (UBC) student group, the talk was given to a packed house.

Campus Zionist groups had been ripping down SPHR posters (edited) in an act of indignation. With a few days left before the event, students from several groups such as the Israeli Awareness Committee (IAC), Hillel House and the Jewish fraternity tried to storm a meeting of the Social Justice Centre (SJC), which they alleged was helping SPHR with the Galloway event and donating to the Canadian Boat to Gaza: two actions that the group said were against SJC's mandate of promoting social justice.

"The people who showed up to stack the meeting said that they were unaffiliated even though they were all clearly members of campus pro-Israel clubs," said SJC member Gordon Katic. "They said that some of the posters used for the Galloway event were making the campus feel uncomfortable to Jewish students, to the point that they wanted to reclaim the SJC."

The IAC did not respond to a request for comments.

When the takeover did not work, the groups went to the UBC Alma Mater Society (AMS).

"UBC AMS President Bijan Ahmadian froze the transaction of funds between SJC and SPHR," said SPHR member Omar Shaban. "This is a violation of AMS law and also makes Bijan complicit in blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza."

Ahmadian was involved earlier this year in the cancellation of an on-campus fundraiser for anti-Olympic arrestees. He did not respond to a request for comments.

Ahmadian was also part of the group that walked into the SJC meeting: an action that Katic said was meant to intimidate the group. Katic also noted that the IAC supported Ahmadian's election campaign.

By the day of the Galloway event, most of the complaints about SJC making Jewish students uncomfortable had been dismissed by the AMS. Instead the major issue Ahmadian and the IAC was pushing was administrative: that the SJC had not had an annual general meeting in September, and that the group has no administrative coordinator.

Attacks are also currently being launched in the form of a campaign called against one of the co-organizers of the Galloway talk. A similar website called UBCStudentsforStudents is petitioning for SJC's finances to be frozen pending rectification of the above issues.

"By attempting to support an illegal and potentially violent flotilla in support of the Hamas terrorist regime, and by co-sponsoring the visit of George Galloway, an enthusiastic supporter of the world's most repressive, violent, misogynist and anti-gay regimes, the SJC acts in direct opposition to the the very values of social justice the Resource Group is mandated to promote," said Director of Communications for Vancouver Hillel Foundation Pat Johnson, in an email with regards to the campaign against the SJC.

"The SJC did not support the Galloway talk," said Shaban. "And if Pat had attended the event he would have seen that Galloway said himself that he does not represent nor support Hamas."

SPHR is currently campaigning to contact Ahmadian and other AMS representatives to protest the decision to freeze the fund transfer.

A look at groups such as Independent Jewish Voices and Jews for Just Peace show that there are a host of respectively national and local Jewish individuals that have a more progressive stance on the boat to Gaza as opposed to Zionist campus groups.

"The amount of harm being done by the occupation makes it clear where the loyalties of anyone interested in social justice should lie," said SJC member Greg Williams who identifies as being ethnically Jewish. "SJC stands behind the people of Gaza, and suggests the IAC and Pat Johnson review their loyalty and support for one of the most repressive regimes in the world."

Katic has been the target of personal attacks on his Facebook page as well as in class, where postings from his blog were used to incite one of his professors against him.

"What is going on here is a pattern of targetting campus radical groups," said Katic. "Bijan's support for these illegitimate complaints has a chilling effect, but we are taking action against this intimidation and will continue to provide critical voices on campus."

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A minor correction

One minor correction: the poster was relating to not the Galloway event but a previous SPHR event, the Israeli aparthied week.

It is disingenuous at best

It is disingenuous at best not to be upfront about your bias -- Isaac is a member of the SJC.

No he is not. You're thinking

No he is not. You're thinking of Isaac Rosengberg. Sorry.

I am not a member of the SJC

But thanks for being up-front about your vapid ignorance anonymous.

Thank you for writing about

Thank you for writing about this.

If so-called "AMS President"

If so-called "AMS President" Bijan Ahmadian is doing the foolish and outright cowardly thing by hiding and refusing to comment on a situation to which he is clearly biased, do any other AMS executives have anything to say?

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