Canadian student leader calls on followers to ‘punch a Zionist’

A McGill University student leader remains unapologetic even after his call on Twitter followers to “punch a Zionist” was exposed by a Canadian Jewish human rights organization.

Igor Sadikov, member of the Legislative Council and Board of Directors of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), remains unapologetic after his call on Twitter to “punch a Zionist” was exposed, apologizing only for his choice of words.   

“I regret the way that I phrased my opposition to Zionism and the fact that some of my constituents and fellow students felt harmed by it,” he stated, adding that his tweet “was not an attack against Jewish students, but on the adherents of a political philosophy.”

Sadikov added that he does “not condone nor advocate violence on the basis of membership in any identity group,” notably excluding any condemnation of violence against those who identify with a particular political philosophy.

Sadikov had responded in a statement to consequential uproar after B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish human rights organization, publicized the tweet.

“This is clear incitement to violence, which should not be tolerated on the part of any student, let alone a student politician,” said Amanda Hohmann, National Director of B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights. “We expect that this tweet will be taken for the serious example of incitement that it is, and Sadikov will be censured appropriately.

However, B’nai Brith says, Sadikov “continues to spread anti-Jewish falsehoods, even after his tweet calling on his followers to ‘punch a Zionist’ was exposed” by the organization on Thursday.

According to B’nai Brith, Sadikov spoke from the perspective of his “own Jewish heritage” of the need “to disentangle Jewish identity from Zionism,” despite no recollection by Jewish students at McGill University, who have known Sadikov for many years, of any Jewish connection on his part.

Moreover, B’nai Brith said that according to students, Sadikov rejected the historical connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, during a follow-up meeting of the SSMU Legislative Council. A motion overwhelmingly failed to condemn Sadikov for his remarks.

A motion had also been raised during the meeting to censure and impeach Jasmine Segal, a Jewish member of the Legislative Council, for “supporting Zionism.” Although the motion did not pass, no member of the Council reportedly stood up in Segal’s defense.

“I had approached the president of SSMU in near tears, explaining my position, and was told that I would hear an apology and a public statement in the meeting,” Segal told B’nai Brith. “No apology was ever delivered. I am worried for students who are now scared to be a part of student government because of what happened to me today.” Like Segal, B’nai Brith was notably disturbed by the events at the meeting.

“B’nai Brith Canada is disgusted by the response of SSMU, which allowed the escalation of attacks against Jewish students at McGill,” said Michael Mostyn, the organization’s chief executive officer. “I cannot stress enough how appalled we are by what’s transpired in the past 48 hours. Rather than condemning Sadikov and distancing SSMU from his offensive position, it has chosen to remain silent about discrimination and incitement to violence toward its Jewish constituents,” he continued. “The McGill administration must move quickly to protect its own elected representatives.”

The McGill administration has responded and is taking disciplinary action, according to a statement.

“The University strongly condemns expressions of hatred or incitement to violence against any individual or group,” a statement read on behalf of Provost and Vice-Principal Christopher Manfredi.

“Such statements do not represent the views or the values of the University and we believe they violate a number of our policies, including the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures,” the statement continued.  “While individual disciplinary proceedings are confidential, appropriate offices are taking action as required. McGill remains steadfast in its support of freedom of expression and respectful discourse.”

By: World Israel News Staff