Mid East conflict is York protest fodder — again
By Laura Katsirdakis
Middle East tensions have erupted again at York University
after two groups of demonstrators clashed on campus Tuesday.
The protests descended into a shouting match when the two groups
confronted each other.
According to Nancy White, a spokesperson for York, the administration
agreed to allow a vigil by Hillel and the Young Zionist Partnership
to take place on campus, outside Veri Hall. “There were
rumours of a [Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights] demonstration
as well, but nothing official.”
Paul Cooper, president of the York Federation of Students,
said he attended the demonstration in his capacity as a student.
He said administration told Hillel and the YZP to move their
vigil away from Veri Hall. “There was no attempt by administration
to prevent or take down the SPHR demonstration [which was inside
SPHR began a theatrical demonstration immediately upon arriving
in Veri Hall, White said.
“SPHR was setting up their version of mock checkpoints — they
were demonizing Israelis who could be some of our brothers,
sisters or friends,” Cooper said.
SPHR could not be reached for comment.
White explained that administration and campus security were
present. “It’s not allowed for people to demonstrate
in Veri Hall because there are classrooms — they need
a permit to demonstrate [at all],” she said, adding security
was trying to control the SPHR demonstrators when the other
group came onto the scene.
“The dynamic changed when they arrived; the event really
changed. We are really disappointed — these are students
that know the rules and they broke them,” she said.
“Administration knew this would happen — they
were [at Veri Hall] since 10 a.m. and they didn’t do
anything to stop it,” said Seth Winberg, a Hillel VP,
adding the group sent a video to administration showing the
violence resulting from similar demonstrations at other schools. “Jewish
students are fed up with the lack of support from administration.”
“The [York] VP-students is sending out a letter of reprimand
to both groups — we cannot rule out disciplinary action
right now,” White said.
“I don’t think it was very wise [for the YFS president
to take a side in the demonstration],” said University
Students’ Council President Paul Yeoman. “The situation
at Concordia [University] happened when the student union started