Mixed response to IAC speaker
By Angela Marie Denstedt
and Anton Vidgen
The Israel Action Committee brought in two speakers to talk
about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict yesterday, however,
the presentation caused a stir with several students walking
out and others staying to voice their opposition.
New York City radio personality and Rabbi Tovia Singer said
as a Jewish child growing up in Brooklyn, he never thought
possible the friendship or union of different religions. Now,
however, he sees it as possible, but not without a struggle. “Those
of you who are not Jewish and stand up for the Jewish state
will be called racists,” he said. “I want to warn
you: You will be hated by some, but loved by many.”
Singer expressed his hope for a future with Canada in the
fight against racism. “Do we look at you, Canada, and
see a great chance at partnership? Of course we do,” he
said, adding acceptance could be achieved through education
and speaking out.
“If you had asked me if I’d ever be introducing
a man who sought out to murder Jews just because they were
Jewish — a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization — I’d
say it wasn’t possible,” Singer said as he introduced
the second speaker, Walid Shoebat.
A former PLO member, Shoebat expressed his desire for peace
but also the need for a better global understanding of the
Middle East conflict.
Born in Bethlehem, Shoebat said he grew up as a Palestinian
trained to hate Jewish people, but was now reformed. He wanted
to educate people about where he came from and what he saw
as the reality of the conflict. “Not all the stereotypes
believed by citizens of Canada or the United States are true,” Shoebat
said. “Not all Muslims are Jew-hating; not all Muslims
He also discussed various times in his childhood, consistently
referring to them as a time when he was being “brainwashed” by
his community into hating Jews. According to Shoebat, one of
the lines in a song he learned in school was, “Arabs
are beloved and Jews are dogs.”
As a society that is now aware of what is going on, Shoebat
argued that we must help and “speak out,” but also
warned that “anti-Semitism is alive and well, whether
we want to believe it or not.”
During Shoebat’s presentation, several students walked
out of the room in protest.
“[It was] the most one-sided horse shit to ever come
out of this university,” said a fourth-year history student
who declined to be named.
“What [Shoebat] demonstrated today was the essence of
the conflict and is the reason why the conflict is escalating
today,” said Hussam Ayyad, president of Solidarity for
Palestinian Human Rights. “He demonstrated denial.”
But IAC President Mat Abramsky said he disagreed. “The
result that he showed was that Israel is an answer, not the
“It was nice to hear both sides of the story,” said
second-year administration and commercial studies student Adam
Walman, adding he found it very informative.