The newspaper at McGill University in Montreal, The McGill Daily—one of Canada’s largest student papers—published an editorial this week falsely describing Zionism as a “colonial movement,” a “racist attitude” and “a violent practice,” and advised students who wanted to learn more about Zionism to refer to a leading BDS website for more information.

The Monday editorial also expressed outrage at the school’s administration, which had stepped in to apply pressure on the editorial board to publish a letter to the editor written by two Jewish pro-Israel law students decrying the paper’s anti-Semitic description of Zionism. According to the Daily’s own constitution, it is required to publish all letters it receives.

Regardless, the editors refused to publish the letter on the basis that pro-Israel students are not entitled to be part of a “dialogue that gives a platform to ideas which dehumanize a group of people.”

After McGill administrators threatened to pull Daily funding over the issue, the paper’s editors capitulated and published the letter, titled “Response to McGill Daily on Zionism,” which also appeared in Monday’s issue. It pointed out that “there’s a reason why the vast majority of Jews around the world (especially those at McGill) identify as Zionist, and it’s not because they’re violent, racist, colonialists; it’s because they actually understand what Zionism is and through their lived experiences, understand why it’s necessary.”

The letter went on to describe the centuries of exclusion, forced conversion and genocide faced by the Jewish Diaspora, and noted that the central premise of Zionism is that “the best way to ensure Jewish survival was to put our destiny into our own hands.”

Although the letter made no reference to Palestinian people beyond a passing mention of BDS founder Omar Barghouti, the Daily’s editorial called the letter “unconscionable in its dehumanization of the Palestinian people.”

Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said “it is not the first time the McGill Daily has targeted the Jewish community with fabricated theories and by fomenting anti-Semitism. It’s time for the university administration to shake out the newspaper from those who spread hate and intolerance against our community.”

Of the 40,036 enrolled at McGill, some 3,550 are Jewish, or around 8.9 percent of the study body.

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