York University Student Unions Whitewash Hamas Atrocities in Israel

October 13, 2023

News Release

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Toronto (October 13, 2023) – Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) denounces yesterday’s “Solidarity with Palestine” incendiary statement issued by York University student unions that glorifies and tries to justify the murderous Hamas terror group and its atrocities while spreading disinformation about the State of Israel. The organization commends the York University administration for condemning the unions’ statement and calling for their immediate rejection of violence against Jewish students.

In their outrageous statement, the York Federation of Students, York University Graduate Students’ Association and Glendon College Student Union declared that “in a strong act of resistance, the Palestinian people tore down and crossed the illegitimate border fence erected by the settler-colonial apartheid state of so-called Israel.” It further states, “These resistance efforts are a direct response to the ongoing and violent occupation of Palestine.”

This statement not only misrepresents Hamas terrorists as “Palestinian people,” but also justifies their land, air and sea incursion into Israel to commit horrendous mass murder, rape, mutilation and torture against Israeli people, calling it an “act of resistance.”

The statement, rife with false information about Israel, denies Israel’s existence, calling it “so-called Israel” and wrongfully accuses the country of “state-sanctioned violence, siege and genocide,” among other deceit.

This morning, York University issued a response on social media, stating, “York University unequivocally condemns the inflammatory statement shared by three student unions last night. Freedom of expression has limits and comes with responsibilities. It must never reach into promoting or justifying violence against unarmed civilians. To suggest otherwise is abhorrent and does not reflect the views of York University, nor the perspective of many thousands of York University students.” The university has called on the three student unions to "immediately clarify that they firmly reject any acts of violence or discrimination against Jewish students or other members of the community, and to reaffirm their commitment to non-violence and the safety of all of their members."

“After more than 1,300 Israelis were brutally murdered by Hamas terrorists, thousands more wounded and dozens kidnapped, including children, this statement from York University’s student unions is shockingly reprehensible,” said FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt. “Not only does the statement fail to mention Hamas and its murderous rampage targeting innocent Israeli women, men and children, it whitewashes Hamas terrorists by referring to them as ‘Palestinian people’ and their incursion into Israel to commit terrorism as an ‘act of resistance.’ We thank York University for taking a public stand by denouncing this horrendous statement and affirming that it goes against the university’s views.”

In an October 8 statement shared online, York University stated it “denounces the weekend attacks against civilians in Israel and is deeply troubled by the ongoing violence.”

FSWC is calling on the University of Toronto administration to also denounce a statement issued by a student union, the U of T Mississauga Students’ Union, which is rife with disinformation about Israel, including accusing the country of “mass genocide,” and wilfully fails to mention Hamas’s terror attack and loss of Israeli lives.