Journey to Israel causes uproar at McGill pupil society

The College students’ Society of McGill College constructing.

Dario Ayala / Montreal Gazette

Pupil executives at McGill College deny claims they singled out and censured a Jewish colleague for accepting a free journey to Israel.


Jordyn Wright was certainly one of three pupil leaders at McGill to just accept an all-expenses-paid journey to Israel and the Palestinian territories this winter. The journey is funded by Hillel Montreal and would put college students in contact with journalists and politicians to higher perceive the conflicts and geopolitical forces that form life in Israel.

However of the three who agreed to go on the journey, Wright was the one one topic to a movement Thursday by the College students’ Society of McGill College to be reprimanded ought to she settle for the journey. She says she was focused due to her Jewish id.

Executives on the SSMU say the story is extra nuanced than that.


Of the 2 different college students who initially accepted the journey, one withdrew earlier than the movement was handed final week. Executives say the coed, Adin Chan, was talked about in an earlier draft of the movement however his identify was eliminated after he withdrew.

Sanchi Bhalla is an SSMU government who turned down the journey. She says the supply represents a battle of curiosity primarily based on financial items.

“We determined to not go on the journey as a result of, partially, we felt uncomfortable accepting a visit of such a excessive financial worth,” stated Bhalla, the SSMU’s vice-president of inside affairs. “It appeared like, you understand, there’s no free lunch.”


The opposite pupil not reprimanded by the SSMU belonged to a company outdoors of its jurisdiction, in line with Bhalla. Andrew Chase, the coed in query, says that’s merely not true.

“Identical to Jordyn (Wright), I’m bounded by the conflict-of-interest coverage and may be reprimanded by SSMU for breaches of the conflict-of-interest coverage,” Chase stated. “The movement that handed on Thursday explicitly declared Councillor Wright to be in a battle of curiosity, however not me.”

In a press release posted to her Facebook page, Wright says she felt intimidated into refusing the journey and feels she has been the goal of thinly veiled anti-Semitism. That submit was shared almost 2,000 instances and Wright’s story has been picked up by the Occasions of Israel, the Jerusalem Submit and the Canadian Jewish Information.


Wright instructed the Montreal Gazette that McGill is, general, an ideal place to be a Jewish pupil, however that some current flare-ups level to spiritual and cultural tensions on campus.

“There have been plenty of situations in the previous few years the place college students have been focused for his or her ethnic id or spiritual affiliation,” she stated. “Many of those situations have been targeted on Jewish college students, however there have additionally been quite a lot of points affecting Muslim and Indigenous college students as effectively.”

Final yr, because the SSMU led a debate to alter McGill’s team nickname from Redmen — due to its anti-Indigenous connotation — Wright says one member of the SSMU was bullied for being from Blackfoot territory.


On the problem at hand, Wright says the controversy across the Israel journey has been poisonous.

“Holding me personally accountable for the actions of the Israeli authorities and assuming a Jewish individual or group can’t strategy points pertaining to the Israel-Palestine battle in a nuanced means is a matter,” Wright stated.

“The one option to resolve these issues is to carry folks collectively, focus on tough matters and construct bridges, moderately than singling people out. Our strategy as college students ought to be constructive and never punitive.”


Wright says she’s sympathetic to the struggling of Palestinians in Israel and that it’s doable to have a extra nuanced, much less caustic debate on the college.

In a press release launched Sunday, McGill deputy provost Fabrice Labeau known as the SSMU’s determination to censure Wright opposite to the college’s values of “inclusion, variety and respect.” Labeau stated McGill’s administration will monitor the state of affairs and “take measures” to make sure college students really feel secure and revered on campus.

Madeline Wilson, an SSMU government, stated she felt the journey would current college students with a biased view of the Israeli-Palestinian battle. She says related considerations have been raised by Arab and Palestinian college students.


The Montreal Gazette contacted Hillel Montreal to ask in regards to the Israel journey and whether or not it comes with any expectations of pupil individuals. Hillel Montreal declined the interview, however provided to reply questions by electronic mail.

The Montreal Gazette’s electronic mail questions weren’t answered as of Monday night.

Some statements condemning the SSMU give attention to current controversies involving the coed union.


Two years in the past, an elected consultant of McGill’s arts college students resigned from his post after tweeting about punching Zionists. The earlier yr, the SSMU was extensively condemned when it tried to ratify a motion supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions protest movement, which advocates for financial strain towards Israel over its remedy of Palestinians.

The movement was defeated by a campus-wide referendum and overturned by the SSMU’s judicial board.