Hillel at York University and a pro-Palestinian group were suspended over the weekend following a confrontation between the two groups in a campus academic building. Hillel has asked the university administration to clarify the reasons for the suspension, which is expected to last one week. During this period, Hillel may not conduct activities on university property although it is not prohibited from operating off-campus.
At the same time that Hillel student leaders have expressed anger over the suspension, which they label "heavy-handed" and "disproportionate," Hillel is urging calm. "We must look beyond this single incident to create an atmosphere on campus that is conducive to learning and the free expression of all opinion," said Hillel of Toronto Executive Director Zac Kaye.
Kaye welcomed messages of solidarity from Hillel supporters which may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The suspension came after pro- and anti-Israel groups clashed on Tuesday, March 16 on the York campus. Pro-Israel activists received university permission to create a symbolic cemetery memorializing the victims of terror in front of Vari Hall, an academic building on campus. A group of 20 anti-Israel protestors entered Vari Hall for an illegal demonstration in which they set up mock Israeli "check points." The protestors dressed as Palestinian women as well as Israeli, American and Canadian soldiers. Approximately 70 pro-Israel students confronted these students inside the building until university officials interceded and evicted students from the building.
Hillel at York asserts that the university often has turned a blind eye to previous illegal anti-Israel and anti-American protests on campus. A city-wide rally was scheduled for Wednesday, March 24 to protest a recent spate of anti-Semitic incidents in the Greater Toronto Area. The rally is organized by the UJA Federation and Canadian Jewish Congress Ontario Region.