There are few assertions put forth in Sana Saeed’s column which I’d like to address. Firstly, let’s look at the assertion (and thinly disguised reference) that “shells of identity politics” are being cast upon all those “who dared to speak out against Israeli aggression.” This mixing of self-righteousness and self-pity for holding a political viewpoint is immature and obnoxious for the reader. If Saeed truly believes that she, and those holding similar views, stand on the side of a great untold truth, then they should expect and welcome the dissent that will be thrown their way. When in history have unpopular views been welcomed with open arms? Also, considering that denouncements of the Israeli government are commonplace in international media, international governments, and governing bodies, as well as in the streets and on university campuses world wide, it seems that Saeed’s political views aren’t even that unpopular, further making her self-righteousness unwarranted.
Let’s turn now to the assertion that “any small public debate on any issue even mentioning Palestine or Israel” is shut down. First, a SSMU general assembly isn’t a public debate – it isn’t even public. The General Assembly is a private meeting for McGill students whose representatives have chosen to follow Robert’s Rules of Order in conducting the assembly. Second, it isn’t a debate. The GA exists as a popular legislative body that decides relevant policy. While each bill is open for debate, the goal of the assembly is to democratically enact policy, not force everyone to hear your viewpoint. Is it fair that a minor majority can silence a passionate minority? This is debatable and I’ll admit that popular democracy has its drawbacks. If a truly public debate was shut down or censored I’d certainly be on your side that a violation of free speech has been committed. I quote Thomas Paine on free speech: “He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.”
U2 Political Science & Jewish Studies
VP External, JSSA, AUS Council