Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In response.

After a peaceful rally and demonstration was held by Students Against Israel Apartheid on February 12, the York University administration banned the student group without trial or jury. This act of intimidation comes within a systemic response from many universities that are trying to scare students from holding Israeli Apartheid Week on their campuses. I decided to write Vice President of Students Robert J. Tiffin ( a letter telling him what I thought of his decision to suspend the group for thirty days, fine it $1,000, and to fine a Palestinian student from Gaza another $250 for her role in organizing the demonstration:

Dear VP Tiffin,

My name is Ahmed Habib, I am an alumnus of York University and a former Vice President at the York Federation of Students. I dare you to read this letter, and not throw it away after realizing who it is from.

When I graduated, and in front of my traveling family, former YU President Lorna Marsden refused to shake my hand for what I can only assume to be my political activism at Keele Campus.

I am certain that you also remember me for the countless times that you tried to intimidate me by sending me warning letters about holding events in Vari Hall, and by allowing the dehumanization by racist students against me and others to go unpunished.

It is with no surprise then, that I read your latest assault on members of SAIA for exercising their democratic right in the face of troubling complicity between York University and the racist Apartheid ways of the state of Israel.

I know that you will respond to me and tell me that York is neutral in what you like to term the "Israeli-Palestinian" conflict. However, I am certain that even for a man of your political sleaze, you do not believe a word of that argument.

I refer you to the latest bridge being built between York and Apartheid Israel, a new course being offered on campus: HUMA 4821: Culture, Society and Values in Israel.

The objection here isn't the nature of the course per se, although Zionism is internationally recognized as racism, but the fact that it is being taught by a former Cabinet member of former Israeli PM Menachim Begin.

Amongst Begin's many accomplishments during his reign was the illegal occupation of Lebanon in 1982, which caused the death of more than 10,000 civilians, including the atrocities committed in the Sabra and Shatilla massacres.

Perhaps, the new course could be offered free of charge to Shahira Abu Roudeina, one of the survivors of that fateful day when militias under the watchful eyes of Ariel Sharon and Menachim Begin carried out despicable acts including disemboweling pregnant women and cutting off the heads of their unborn babies. Here is part of Ms. Abu Rudeina's testimony as part of the legal case launched in Belgium to indict Israeli officials:

"On Thursday 15 September, after sunset, the Israeli air force carried out some raids against us. We lived in the western part of the camp, and when the shelling started drawing nearer, we – my husband, my children and I – went to my parents’ home at the entrance of the camp, to see where they wanted to go. But we all stayed at my parents’ house until 7 pm, at which time, seeing as the shelling kept intensifying, my sister went to see what was happening outside. They immediately shot at her. She shouted, “Daddy!” and didn’t come back. Hearing her cry, my father went out. He saw her and said, “Our little girl is dead.” Then they shot at him, and he fell. The whole camp was lit up by light flares, and none of us could go outside. We stayed locked in like that until 2 am. Then we understood that there had been a massacre. "

I wonder if Professor Arye Naor will be discussing these moments in class, or if he will just use the academic space granted to him by you to whitewash the crimes he was complicit in.

Note that Ariel Sharon was invited to speak in Canada by none other than York University's own fundraising genius Julia Koschitzky. The connections between York and Israeli crimes are many and disgusting, I am sure you know about and uphold many of them willingly.

As for your suggested disciplinary actions against SAIA, I was distressed to see that they are completely in line with the racist attempts of Zionist organizations to silence anti-Apartheid activism on campuses worldwide. I was utterly disgusted by your cheeky suggestion to Hala Farah to write a letter of public apology to the York community for disturbing classes.

You should apologize for supporting the killing of her family, for supporting those that deny her the right to return home, and you definitely should apologize for trying to intimidate her along the classic lines of anti-Arab racism.

I remember an incident at a meeting between us where you erupted in anger because I kept calling you, "VP Tiffin" as opposed to "Rob". You suggested that by addressing you with the former I was dehumanizing you.

By continuing the display of racism and intimidation that will form your legacy at York, you have proven that you are neither interested in humanity, nor are you fit to deal with humans destroyed by racist regimes like Israel.

It is time you step down. You will always be remembered as a tool for supporting Apartheid, and for ignoring pressing issues on campus like safety and accessibility so you can dedicate the bulk of your energies to supporting Israel.

As well, please say hi to President Shoukri, who apparently likes to smear my reputation cowardly when I'm not there, and your assistant Sylvia Schippke, who learned how to deal with students during her reign at Boeing, one of the world's largest weapons manufacturers.

Disgusted, Ahmed Habib

---- I will be back to post more tomorrow.

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