Students at Canada’s prestigious McGill University are rallying behind student politician Igor Sadikov who encouraged others to “punch a Zionist.” Sadikov’s call to violence echoed the progressive rally to “punch a Nazi,” popularized by recent events in Washington DC. Sadikov shared his words on Twitter. He has since deleted his Twitter account.
Supporters who defended him singled out Jewish students who support Israel who called for his removal from the Students’ Society of McGill University, where Sadikov represents arts students. The issue was brought to the organization’s board of directors, which put it to a vote that was rejected by 5-4 on Monday.
According to the National Post, students who attended the legislative council meeting say that the board declined to denounce him, but stayed quiet as a Jewish member was called out by a pro-Palestinian student activist for her support of Israel.
“Instead of dealing with this important and distasteful issue, supporters from the gallery for (Sadikov) turned the meeting to attack me and request that I be removed as a representative of SSMU due to my faith,” wrote Jasmine Segal, who objected to Sadikov’s violent rhetoric.
Segal was told she wasn’t welcome on the council for her support of Israel.
“I was left isolated and alone to respond. My fellow representatives sat in silence and permitted this malicious, prejudicial, and unjustified attack to continue.”
The McGill Daily reports that the activist highlighted SSMU’s “social justice mandate” and asked why the student council allowed Zionist supporters to participate, stating that “Zionist ideology is inherently linked to ethnically cleansing Palestinians.”
Afterwards, the gallery devolved into arguments about the definition of Zionism, and whether Jews or Palestinians had experienced violence. Questions were raised over whether Segal’s characterization of Sadikov’s call to assault Israel supporters as a “hate crime” had any merit.
Another Jewish student, Molly Harris, told the Post that she felt targeted for her ethnicity.
“This tweet and the discourse that followed on Thursday have unleashed a wave of condemnation of Zionists and Jews at McGill and have normalized inciting violence against students who identify as such,” she said. “If anything, I feel more unsafe and more singled out now than I did last week because of the campus groups who have used Sadikov’s tweet as an opportunity to express their anti-Zionist, and often anti-Semitic views.”
Sadikov, who has not apologized for the antisemitic tweet, did however apologize for what he said “between the years of 2009-2012,” where he made “several highly objectionable tweets of a violent and discriminatory nature.”
Regardless of the students’ refusal to condemn Sadikov’s speech, the McGill administration says it plans to take disciplinary action against Sadikov. The principal, Suzanne Fortier, says the tweet personally shocked her, and that the university condemns expressions of hatred and calls to violence.