TORONTO — A year and a half ago, to shouts of "Allahu Akbar", an angry crowd forced the York Region District School Board's Race Relations Advisory Committee to recess its final summer session. "There are 150 of us here," a leader of the dissidents shouted. "We demand to speak." An explanation that this was an elected body where each member represents thousands of voters fell on deaf ears. Democracy be damned.
September 9 of last year was another banner day in the assault on democracy and Canadian values — the date of the Concordia University Riots that prevented former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, from speaking and in which Jews were beaten, spit upon and cursed.
In the name of "Palestine", chairs were thrown through windows but the greatest damage was to Canada.
Our way of life was changed for good.
How much change? This week York University caved under pressure to prevent Daniel Pipes from being heard. The internationally syndicated journalist was slated to speak to the Jewish Students Association. Eventually, they "uncaved".
Students at York University apparently attempted to block the speaking engagement by Daniel Pipes scheduled for Tuesday at 2 pm. York University subsequently cancelled the permit for using ‘The Underground', the room originally assigned for his lecture. It was initially unclear as to whether or not they would locate an alternate venue.
Unlike Netanyahu at Concordia, Dr.Pipes is not a diplomat, but a well-known academic, who regularly speaks at universities across the United States. An expert on the war against terrorism, his articles appear regularly in major newspapers across North America including the National Post.
Earlier, Pipes had been invited to be the guest of honour at a lunch hosted by York University's Centre for International and Security Studies, just before the scheduled speech. Suddenly, he was uninvited.
According to political science professor, David Dewitt, Pipes became persona non grata because of hi affiliation with Campus Watch, a group that keeps an eye on professors to monitor distortions in the teaching of Middle Eastern history and events.
In an ironic statement, quoted by the Globe and Mail, Ali Hassan, president of the Middle Eastern Student Association at York said: "Our concern is the racism toward Middle Eastern students. If he is allowed to speak on campus, our concerns will remain." True to the spirit of the Durban human rights conference, Jews were held up to charges of racism from the very people who wallow in it.
Freedom of speech and expression may be dieing on campuses but three professors joined in a letter to the National Post, blasting the spineless stance of the university. Professors Christine Furedy, professor emerita, Urban Studies at York, Leo Zakuta (Sociology - University of Toronto) and John J. Furedy (psychology, U of T) declared "To cancel a luncheon address on such cowardly grounds is totally inappropriate, especially for a university."
They continued: "The spokesman for York's Jewish students, Zach Kaye, had it right when he said if you disagree with [Mr. Pipes], then you challenge him and ask him to defend his opinions. You don't shut him up."
Late on January 27, it was announced that Pipes would speak the next day at York University's Tait McKenzie building.