No matter one’s opinion about the nature of the illegal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, there should be little controversy regarding the ability to discuss this situation on a University campus. Free speech is the life’s blood of any institution of higher learning (as it is of a functioning democracy). Apparently, there are instances when free speech can almost casually be set aside. Recently, at MacMaster University in Canada, the phrase “Israeli Apartheid” was banned from being used on campus. This decisions was made by the Provost office and endorsed (and enforced) by the student Union. The reasons for this are, unsurprisingly, weak. Further, such rabble rousers as noble prize winners Jimmy Carter and Bishop Desmund Tutu have used this phrase recently to describe the conditions Palestinians live under in the west bank. The following is from a MacMaster student group press release.
UNITED FOR STUDENT RIGHTS (U4SR) PRESENTS
A Public Forum
Rights & Responsibilities in Political Discussion on Campus:
Who Speaks for McMaster?
Thursday, February 28, 2008 at 12:00pm
Details to be determined
United for Student Rights (U4SR) is holding a Public Forum to discuss
the recent shocking decision by McMaster Student Union (MSU) and
administration to unequivocally ban on campus the usage of the phrase
“Israeli Apartheid”. This decision was first passed by the McMaster
Provost office, which is second in authority only to that of the
President’s office. It has been accepted by McMaster Human Rights &
Equity Services (HRES) and, in turn, the MSU. This information was
communicated to Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) and
McMaster Muslims for Peace & Justice (MMPJ) early in February 2008 by
the MSU and HRES. Due to this decision, these MSU approved clubs have
not been able to get approval for various initiatives related to Israeli
Apartheid. It is the MSU that is directly enforcing this decision, as it
is the only campus body with jurisdiction over student clubs. MSU
President, Ryan Moran, explained that though the MSU is not bound by
this decision, i! t has chosen to implement it none the less. U4SR is
calling on the MSU to rescind this decision immediately as part of
opening up the discussion for all to decide.