«« TERRORISME - conflit israélo-palestinien

Manifestation à Concordia à l'occasion du passage de Benjamin Nétanyahou

The yahoos who shamed Canada

WILLIAM JOHNSON
GLOBE AND MAIL Thursday, September 12, 2002

Call it poetic justice. The pro-Palestinian ultras who prevented Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking at Montreal's Concordia University on Monday, achieved the antithesis of what they wanted.

By rioting against an eminent foreign visitor's presence on a university campus, they gave Israel's former prime minister an international spotlight he could never have commanded without the smashed windows, attacks on police, the kicking and spitting on Jews, and bullying of those who came to hear the speaker.

The yahoos caused Canada embarrassment, Concordia shame and themselves condemnation. They didn't help the cause they so loutishly purported to serve.

Were this an isolated incident, that would end the story. But the riot highlighted recent years of gross pro-Palestinian agitation that divided the students of misnamed Concordia and set a majority against the misnamed Concordia Student Union Council.

Consider. During Monday's confrontation, a familiar figure leaped on the roof of a police van and harangued the crowd with a megaphone. This was Laith Marouf, a Syrian national whose father is in Montreal working for an international agency, with diplomatic immunity.

Mr. Marouf was banned last year from the campus by rector Frederick Lowy after he was caught a second time in a week spraying anti-Israel graffiti on university walls. He broke away from the guards and sprinted to the student council office (he was then vice-president of the student union), where an altercation occurred.

The university spokesman, Dennis Murphy, explained: "This banning is the result of a confrontation with campus security during which a death threat was uttered and two security guards were slightly injured. . . . The individuals involved were not students at the time of the incident and are not currently students."

At the time, Mr. Marouf's standing was designated "failed." He went to court to appeal his expulsion -- his costs were assumed by the student union, to which every student must contribute (though only 9 per cent of students had voted in last year's council elections). The court rejected his petition and imposed costs, to be paid to the university.

Last year's student council included Samer Elatrash, who is of Palestinian origin and who was one of seven people arrested in April for occupying the office of Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, who is Jewish. Mr. Elatrash was a main organizer of Monday's action. On a university Web site last week, he urged everyone to "converge in front of Concordia's Hall Building auditorium, where Netanyahu's lecture is due to take place, in order to block the bloody march of war in an action organized by the newly formed Coalition for a Just Peace in the Middle East."

Last year's council put out to all students an "agenda" book (Uprising) paid for by student fees. It waxed lyrical over the intifada, designated May 15 (Israel's independence day) as Al Nakba (The Catastrophe), and July 1 as Anti-Canada Day, when students are urged to "burn the Canadian flag."

It advised students not to pay rent. "Squatting is simply the acceptance of the illegitimacy of rent." It reflected on Steal Something Day: "Stealing is the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor." It recommended a shoplifting spree at the local mall, and described the university's governors, many from large corporations, as "mass murderers."

Is the current student council more representative? Two signs are posted on the council wall: "America is a Terrorist State," and "Globalize the Intifada."
wjohnson@globeandmail.ca