Head of Jewish Defence League is banned from York University

Courtesy: Meir Weinstein's Facebook page

By: Semyon Dovzhik

Meir Weinstein, the leader of the Jewish Defence League of Canada, has been banned from Toronto’s York University.  This decision came following vicious clashes between pro-Israel activists and pro-Palestinian protesters including members of Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA).  The event occurred at the York University campus on November 20 last year. Two groups engaged in a skirmish in the hallways of  Vari Hall.

Video courtesy of CITY TV News

The pro-Palestinian demonstration was organized by Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA). They were protesting an event organized by a Jewish group called Herut Canada, which brought Israeli Army reservists to campus to answer questions about Israel and more.

Meir Weinstein published on his website an open letter to Rhonda Lenton, the president of York University. “And none of these (pro-Palestinian) groups or leaders were banned from York University. Why? You banned me. This is a case of clear double standards which violates my human rights. I will continue to supply you with information of these off campus groups and leaders that adds to and fosters and antisemitic climate at York University”

According to the Canadian Jewish News website, SAIA at the event in November, protesters began chanting slogans like “Free, Free Palestine” and “Viva, Viva Intifada”. They were confronted by pro-Israel counter-protesters, some of them were members of the Jewish Defence League, holding up Israeli flags and their signs.

As a result of the altercation, one person was left with non-serious injuries. Toronto police made no arrests despite heavy police and security services present at the event. 

York University, in a news release, described the tension as being “high at times” when the groups “were in close proximity to one another, resulting in some verbal and physical confrontations.”

The protest has politicians weighing in on social media, including Premier Doug Ford, who said in a tweet he was “shocked by the vile hatred.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also condemned the protests that occurred during a pro-Israel event at York University on November 20 in a tweet.


York is currently conducting an internal review of the events of November 20. The university also commissioned former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Thomas Cromwell to produce an external report.

According to the York student newspaper Excalibur, SAIA has been suspended twice before, in 2009 and 2013.



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