Letter from Sam Goldberg,calling out the vicious anti-Israel lies & protests of pro-Palestine groups
Dear Principal Deane,
As a Queen's graduate, I was saddened and shocked at the reaction of campus organizations in the aftermath of the slaughter, rape, and mutilation of Israeli men, women, and children on October 7th.
The statements made by the Queen’s Palestine Solidarity Groups on the Situation in Palestine and op-ed pieces to the Queen's Journal are especially alarming. Not once do they mention or condemn the barbarism that Hamas inflicted. Nowhere do they accept that over 200 people were kidnapped, including men, women, Holocaust survivors, and mothers with their babies in their arms. They do not signal any interest in the return or well-being of these hostages. As documented in the New York Times, terrorists also killed Israeli- Palestinian Arabs for whom the authors showed no interest nor for any of the Canadian citizens killed by Hamas.
From personal experience, I know that there is no "six degrees of separation" between Jewish students on Queen's campus and extended family members or friends who have been injured, killed, or kidnapped by Hamas. When the campus groups publish statements such as these Jewish students have good reason to be fearful. They know that the phrase "From the River to the Sea" means the total annihilation of Israelis and by extension Jews. In fact, the author of the op-ed refers to Hamas as " the governing body" of Gaza. According to Hamas, which is listed as a terror organization in Canada, "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." (Preamble of The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement). The author of the op-ed then legitimates this terror organization, blames the victims, refuses to recognize Jewish history, and incorrectly labels Zionists as colonialists when Jews were the indigenous people who were invaded by the Greeks, Romans, and again by the Muslims in approximately 700 AD. This week's Queen's Journal Editorial "Support for Palestine isn’t terrorism" repeated justification of the phrase "From the River to the Sea", pointedly ignoring the 200 plus Israeli hostages and the barrage of rockets from Gaza to Israel that initiated this most recent war.
The purpose of this email is not to get involved in history or campus life, since I am far removed from it all these years later.
However, after reading a number of Queen's Journal articles, there seem to be three Jewish-related themes: 1) Holocaust talks on campus, 2) Putting Israel and by extension Jews in a negative light, or 3) Anti-Semitic incidents on campus. I wonder if this is even the same university that I attended 40 years ago or that Alfred Bader attended in 1941. Would he have stayed, been so successful, and felt indebted to Queen's if he was faced with the current atmosphere on campus? The specter of BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions against Israel) raised its ugly head on Queen's campus a few years ago, and the Queen's Journal supported the organization by donating to BDS in 2021. Will these groups attempt again to draw attention to Jewish donors and students who have ties to Israel? Will they try to mount another campaign to divest Queen's of these supporters? This past weekend, saw pro-Palestinian supporters demonstrating in front of Jewish-owned businesses in Toronto, is that the next step at Queen's?
Last year Queen's Faculty rejected adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism which has been accepted by the governments of Canada, Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, and many others. Could you imagine the uproar if the Queen's Faculty rejected the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act passed by Parliament on June 21, 2021 or Black Lives Matter? At the time of the IHRA debate, Hillel, the Jewish student organization wrote an open letter in favour of accepting the definition and many students publicly signed it. Compare that to the recent Queen’s Palestine Solidarity Groups on the Situation in Palestine statement where signatories hid their names for "safety concerns". The Queen's authors must have learned from the tone-deaf statement signed by organizations at Harvard after October 7th, where many walked back their anti-Israel rhetoric after law firms and other companies rescinded job and internship offers to prove that their support was really an exercise in "Radical chic".
Recently, the Department of Gender Studies at Queen's University was a signatory to a statement of solidarity with the Palestinian Feminist Collective critical of Israel and ignoring that under Hamas' rule, LGBT rights are non-existent with women in Gaza unable to travel without consent from a male guardian. While I accept and support academic freedom, there doesn't seem to be much dialogue on campus these days. Why would a Jewish student dare voice an opinion in a class contrary to a professor who is a signatory to an anti-Israel declaration?
My question is simple and perhaps repetitive:
What is Queen's doing to ensure that campus life is safe for Jewish students?
How are faculties going to be balanced and open-minded towards Israel and Jewish students?
Do Queen's faculty, student organizations, and administration accept the Jewish people's right to self-determination, indigeneity, and student identification with the State of Israel without penalty or fear for safety?
I used to say "I'm a proud Queen's grad", but lately I'm unsure. Not only am I a Queen's graduate twice over but my daughter is a Queen's grad, my son is a Queen's grad, and both my son-in-law and daughter-in-law are all Jewish Queen's grads but I wonder about the next generation. Given the current campus climate, will other Jewish parents want their children or grandchildren to attend Queen's or will they have to hide their identity for fear of being exposed as Zionists (sic Jews)?
Sam Goldberg MSc 83, BEd 77