Jewish-Canadian businessman Paul Bronfman has told Toronto's York University to take down a poster promoting violence against Israel or lose his financial support. The poster, which has been hanging on the wall of the university’s student center for more than two years, depicts a man with rocks in his hands looking at what one assumes is a Jewish community. On his back is a keffiyeh/scarf with a Palestinian flag and a map of Israel without borders. Below that are the words Justice and Peace.
Bronfman, who has been described as one of Canada's richest men, is Chairman and CEO of Comweb Corp and William F. White International, and Chairman of Pinewood Toronto Studios, besides being Director of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center For Holocaust Studies (FSWC).
Never Again Canada reported that this week, after learning about the poster, Bronfman called university president Mamdouh Shoukri to discuss the matter.
“I thought, I am in a position to put some pressure on the people at York who are allowing hate propaganda to be displayed,” Bronfman explained. He said the phone conversation also included the Dean of Law and the VP for Advancement, but that it did not satisfy him. “I was given a bunch of legal jargon. Shoukri said the university had gotten a lot of complaints, but all I received were regurgitated political statements – nothing of substance; nothing that showed the university cared in any way about the students harmed by the hate this mural represents.”
Bronfman, who provides considerable support to the university’s Cinema & Media Arts department, made clear to the university that this support was about to end.
“The upshot is that if that poster is not gone by the end of day today then William F. White is out of York. York is going to lose thousands of dollars of television production equipment used for emerging student filmmakers, access to technical people who do education and student training and student seminars, workshops and open houses at William F. White Center that help them develop the hard skills needed to fill industry infrastructure positions like gaffer or grip: they will no longer be invited. York University will be persona non grata at William F. White international until they take that poster down,” Bronfman said.
“This will be a huge loss for students – it’s not just about the equipment but the access to training that Paul is planning to withdraw – there are no other private corporation that offer this scale of mentorship and training to students like William F. White does,” explained FSWC President and CEO Avi Benlolo.
Bronfman reportedly hopes that community leaders who are on York’s Board of Governors will follow his lead and withdraw funding from York.
“Shoukri is willing to lose significant educational opportunities for his students to keep this anti-Israel, anti-Semitic poster, which is tarnishing the university’s good name. Why is he willing to do this? It makes me sick and should be offensive to all Canadians,” he was quoted as saying.
Last month, anti-Israel students disrupted a pre-Hanukkah get-together sponsored by the Hillel at York University. As Jewish students gathered at a booth displaying Hanukkah photos at Vari Link Hall on Dec. 3, supporters of Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), approached the Hillel display and began chanting anti-Israel slogans.
The pro-Arab faction was also seen handing out anti-Israel brochures and leaflets before the Hillel event formally kicked off.