Toronto Palestinian conference simultaneously condemns & avows bombings

The Canadian National Post reports,

The organizers of a controversial conference on Palestinian solidarity [in Toronto this past week] condemned suicide bombing as “morally reprehensible” yesterday, but refused to change a mission statement that supports the Palestinian people resisting Israeli occupation “by the means of their choosing.”

Apparently it was not a mission statement, but rather a statement of “unity” all attendees were required to sign. LGF is reporting that the university said that it would only allow the conference on campus if attendees were not required to sign. But the organizers did not comply, rather they simply tricked the school into believing they would. Geez. Sounds like sorta like the PA’s handling of its Oslo commitments!

LGF also notes that one of the ‘key organizers’ of the event, Fayyub Sbaihat (who also helped organize the recent Pro-Palestinian conference at Ohio State), is actually an active member of the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terror group that is banned in Canada.

4 thoughts on “Toronto Palestinian conference simultaneously condemns & avows bombings

  1. Palestinian conference condemns bombings
    U OF T campus: ‘They’re legitimizing the use of terrorism,’ student says
    Siri Agrell
    National Post
    Monday, December 01, 2003
    TORONTO – The organizers of a controversial conference on Palestinian solidarity condemned suicide bombing as “morally reprehensible” yesterday, but refused to change a mission statement that supports the Palestinian people resisting Israeli occupation “by the means of their choosing.”
    Just over 50 students, professors and members of the public attended the peaceful one-day Palestinian Solidarity Conference on the University of Toronto campus.
    The event had originally been scheduled for Nov. 22 and 23, but was cancelled by U of T administration on the grounds that a “basis of unity” statement issued by organizers was exclusionary.
    Conference organizers Al-Awda and the Arab Students Collective had originally wanted conference attendees to sign their names in agreement to six outlined principles, including a reference to Israel as “a racist apartheid state” and support of “the right of the Palestinian people to resist Israeli and colonialism by the means of their choosing.”
    The university said the statements fall within the boundaries of free speech, but the Al-Awda student group contravened university policy protecting dissenting opinions by forcing conference participants to agree with its views.
    The clash led to a week of campus protests that saw one student arrested and a student newspaper closed.
    The one-day workshop went ahead without incident yesterday as attendees, many of them draped in the traditional Arab kaffiyeh headdress, planned pro-Palestinian events over the next six months.
    One Jewish student in attendance suggested the conference’s stated support of Palestinian resistance would not have been so controversial if it had not implied an acceptance of suicide bombing and other violent acts.
    “I suggest you remove that proposition because I think a lot of people did interpret that as condoning violence,” said Simon Lightstone, a second-year student and member of Hillel, a Jewish student group.
    “We didn’t mean to provoke anyone,” replied Hazem Jamjoum, one of the conference organizers, who argued that “nitpicking of details is not productive.”
    “This is not condoning the means [of resistance],” Mr. Jamjoum said. “This does not mean we want to destroy any states. This does not mean we condone violence.”
    The conference registration form qualified the “basis of unity” by stating that “conference organizers do not advocate the use of violence against civilian populations.”
    But for some Jewish students, the footnote was not assurance enough.
    “A lot of Jewish students feel intimidated and threatened,” said David Horowitz, a former U of T student who attended the conference on behalf of B’nai Brith. “They’re legitimizing the use of terrorism.”
    Mr. Lightstone was disappointed the group didn’t accept his suggestion that it drop the controversial language from its mission statement and come out strongly against violence.
    He said Jewish and Arab student groups should issue a joint statement condemning violence against all civilians in the Middle East.
    “Once we realize that we both have the same goals, it won’t be hard to achieve the next step toward a solution,” he said.
    The conference proceeded without major incident, but a small police presence remained throughout the day.
    Student conference attendees were joined by academics who called for an atmosphere of tolerance and debate at Canadian schools.
    In September, 2002, a riot broke out at Concordia University sparked by opposition to a visit by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was ultimately prevented from giving a speech.
    Since then, York University and now U of T have been accused of margionalizing freedom of speech by trying to limit the activity of pro-Palestinian groups on campus.
    “I’m concerned about the way universities have responded,” said Guelph University English professor Michael Keefer. “I think they’ve betrayed their own principles.”

  2. just because they overreact to everything doesn’t mean their facts are wrong. a simple google search will yield sbaihat’s involvement with campus organizing and his ties to the pflp.

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