Violence erupted at a protest by pro-Palestinian students against an appearance by Israeli army reservists at York University in Toronto on Wednesday night.
Members of the university chapter of Students Against Israeli Apartheid, or SAIA, tried to shut down a university-approved panel discussion featuring Reservists on Duty, a group made up of former Israeli soldiers.
The protesters, some with their faces concealed by kaffiyeh scarves, chanted pro-Palestinian slogans in the auditorium that included calling for an intifada, or attacks, against Israeli civilians, the Toronto Sun reported.
Punching and scuffling occurred in a nearby stairwell, requiring police to break it up, according to the report. There were some arrests.
Private security personnel were also on hand to secure the event. There were about 600 protesters in the area of the program, The Jerusalem Post reported.
“Further investigation is required into how a registered student group was permitted to glorify terrorism and attempt to intimidate those peacefully assembling on campus,” Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada, said in a statement. “There must be consequences for violent behavior.”
The Friends of the Simon Weisenthal Center said it was pressing local authorities and university officials to take action against what it described as “an antisemitic, violent, racist mob sentiment toward Jewish students on this campus.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he was “disturbed” by the events and had asked York University President Rhonda Lenton for clarification.
I am very disturbed by the apparent polarization and violence evident from the events of last night at York University. I have heard concerns from several Jewish groups in our city today. Anti-Semitism and violence is totally unacceptable.
— John Tory (@JohnTory) November 21, 2019
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he was disappointed in the school for allowing the protest to take place.
I am disappointed that York University allowed for a hate-filled protest to take place last night at Vari Hall. I stand with the Jewish students and the Jewish community. There is no place in Ontario for racism and hatred. #onpoli
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) November 21, 2019
Prior to the event, SAIA hung posters around campus with a photoshopped image of an Israeli soldier who appears to be strangling a child as part of a “no killers on campus” campaign by anti-Israel organizations, Arutz-7 reported.
Earlier this week, the Graduate Student Union at the University of Toronto came under fire for suggesting kosher food on campus should be rejected for being “pro-Israel.”