Protesters affiliated with the Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University (SAIA York) in Toronto on Wednesday evening demonstrated against Herut Canada's event at the campus featuring former IDF soldiers.
The protesters chanted “Viva, Viva Intifada” and “Free, Free Palestine.”
The IDF reservists spoke to students about Israel and their experiences in the army. The reservists' visit to the university sparked a “no killers on campus” campaign organized by anti-Israel student groups.
Flyers protesting the event now cover the walls of the campus, portraying a photoshopped image of an IDF soldier who appears to be strangling a child. Anti-Israel groups have vowed to disrupt the event and are circulating a number of chants students can use to derail the event, such as “From Toronto to Gaza, Globalize the Intifada!”
Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University organized an event on Facebook urging people to show up on Wednesday evening and tell the university’s administration that “we will not tolerate war criminals on our campus.”
According to a statement from B’nai Brith Canada, officers of the Toronto Police Service and private security personnel were on hand to enable attendees to enter the event, despite the best efforts of protesters outside to block them.
Among the protesters present was Holocaust-denying newspaper editor Nazih Khatatba, who glorified a 2014 massacre at a Jerusalem synagogue and has described Judaism as a “terrorist religion.”
At one point, police were forced to intervene to prevent physical violence and injury.
“The Toronto Police Service and York University should be commended for ensuring that this event could be safely held,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “Enraged mobs cannot be allowed to prevent lawful and peaceful gatherings from taking place on campus.
“Further investigation is required into how a registered student group was permitted to glorify terrorism and attempt to intimidate those peacefully assembling on campus. There must be consequences for violent behavior,” added Mostyn.
Hillel York said it condemned the violent protest and added, “Hillel York, alongside the entire Jewish campus community, stands together against incidences like these and will continue to work together toward respect and inclusivity. We are thankful that York’s administration and campus security worked with us to ensure the safety of our students and our space.”
“We encourage any student who was affected by tonight’s protest to reach out to the Hillel staff and be part of the larger conversation to move towards a safer and more peaceful campus community for everyone,” the group said.