Censorship at Montreal college. Conference shut down, conference-goers meet outside.

tadamonwallpaint.jpgHere’s a statement about censorship of the event from Tadamon!, the Canadian group that organized the Middle East popular education project that was held successfully at a variety of other venues.

CALL FOR SUPPORT

Censorship at Montreal-area College: Administration cancels workshop critical of Canadian support for Israel
Montreal, 21 April 2008

ASSÉ, CALEB and Tadamon! denounce the decision of a Montreal college to cancel a presentation critical of Canadian support for Israel. The workshop, scheduled to have taken place today, was cancelled after the administration of Collège Bois-de-Boulogne came under pressure from supporters of Israel. This attack on basic freedom of expression is all the more disturbing because it occurs on a campus.
The presentation, hosted at Bois-de-Boulogne by the Comité d’action pour la lutte étudiante boulonnaise (CALEB), was one of a series of workshops taking place in Montreal-area CEGEPS throughout April under the title, “Middle East Popular Education Project”. The workshop series was organised jointly by the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ, www.asse-solidarite.qc.ca) and Tadamon! Montreal (). It is designed to develop knowledge and strategic thinking in Quebec’s student sector about the role that Canada is playing in the Middle East.


The censorship appears to be the result of a campaign led by a small number of pro-Israeli students at Bois-de-Boulogne, who said they objected to the fact that the workshop was being held on the Jewish holiday of Passover. This group also stated that they had been in touch with the Israeli consulate about the workshop. Apparently on their urging, the school administration also contacted the Israeli consulate, the Lebanese consulate and Foreign Affairs Canada about the workshop.
The decision to cancel was made despite opinion voiced by other students at Bois-de-Boulogne, who believed that space should be given to discuss a valuable perspective on Canadian foreign policy and the situation in Palestine.
A last minute intervention by the new Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians and other individuals was similarly disregarded. Their letter to the administration stated, “We write to urge you not to cancel a joint conference by Assé and Tadamon! April 21 on Israel and Palestine. Behind this censorship attempt appears to be a false belief that critics of Israel are anti-Semitic, or anti-Jewish to be precise. The Jewish people in Quebec and Canada are divided on the issues of Israel and Palestine. There are many Jewish people like us who support open discussion and activities for Palestinian human rights, and oppose the Israeli occupation and suppression of the Palestinian people.” (Full letter can be found at http://tadamon.resist.ca.)
The decision by Bois-de-Boulogne administration to censor valid criticism of the Canadian government and of Israel is part of a discernable and disturbing trend on campuses across Canada.
On being told that they could not hold the workshop inside the school, CALEB moved outside and a discussion took place just in front of the school at noon today. Sitting on the grass, about seventy students discussed the role of the student movement in international solidarity, the historical connection between Canada and Israel as settler-colonial states, and the reality of the apartheid-like system imposed on Palestinians by Israel, as well as strategies to effectively challenge war and racism.
Assé, CALEB and Tadamon! call on all allies to:
Send letters to the Bois-de-Boulogne adminstration protesting their decision to censor perspectives critical of Canadian foreign policy and of Israel:

  • M. Maurice Senneville, Directeur des Études et des Services aux étudiants et au Service des communications du Collège de Bois-de-Boulogne
    Téléphone : (514) 332-3000, poste 7401
    Courriel :
    maurice.senneville-AT-bdeb.qc.ca

Forward a copy of your letter to tadamon-AT-resist.ca if you would like to make your letters public.

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