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B’nai Brith Urges Accountability Following Blockade of McGill Bronfman Building

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A social media post boasting about the “Blockade” at the McGill Bronfman Building (The Montreal Gazette)

February 28, 2024

MONTREAL – B’nai Brith Canada is urging McGill University to hold accountable students, faculty and staff who participated in an outrageous so-called “Blockade” of the Bronfman Building on campus last week.

In a letter to Dr. Deep Saini, McGill’s President and Vice Chancellor, B’nai Brith called for a formal investigation into the Feb. 22, 2024 protest, which organizers billed as an effort to “shut down” the Bronfman Building of the Desautels Faculty of Management.  The facility is associated with one of Canada’s most prominent and most philanthropic Jewish families, the Bronfmans, whose contributions have significantly advanced the university over the past few decades.

The demonstration lasted about eight hours and participants blocked all entrances to the building, including underground, causing instructors to cancel classes and other activities. Among other things, radicals chanted genocidal slogans such as “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free” into loudspeakers and called for a second “Intifada” – a term widely understood to refer to violent attacks on Israel and its innocent civilian population.

After B’nai Brith and Montreal community members raised alarm about the disruption, McGill summoned police to the area. Unfortunately, they were unable to intervene because the university did not give the officers permission to remove the protesters. Instead, they maintained order and protected a group of peaceful Jewish counter-demonstrators who prayed for the release of hostages held by Hamas.

In a Feb. 26 statement, McGill condemned the protest and acknowledged that it exceeded reasonable limits of freedom of assembly on university property. But President Saini also said he would not seek disciplinary measures against the perpetrators unless they engage in similar conduct again, an approach B’nai Brith considers severely misguided.

“McGill must deter radicals from further disrupting classes and depriving students of their education,” said Henry Topas, Quebec Regional Director for B’nai Brith Canada. “By not enforcing the Code of Student Conduct and failing to hold accountable those responsible for this outrageous behaviour, McGill is also sending the message that fringe groups can get away with targeting buildings simply because they are associated with the Jewish community, and with aggressively intimidating Jewish students on campus.

“We call on McGill to thoroughly investigate this matter and take a stronger approach to ensure there are consequences for such egregious misconduct and antisemitism.”