York U. reprimands students in mob

TORONTO (JTA) – York University reprimanded two students who took part in a mob that barricaded Jewish students in a Hillel lounge while yelling anti-Jewish and anti-Israel slurs.

In findings not made public, the university named Krisna Saravanamuttu, the incoming president of the York Federation of Students, and Jesse Zimmerman as having violated the York Student code of conduct for their participation in February’s mob, which contributed to Jewish students "feeling intimidated, frightened, tense and nervous."

The report found that Saravanamuttu and Zimmerman promoted an atmosphere of "hostility, incivility and intimidation." York imposed sanctions and a reprimand on both students.

In light of the "very damaging assessment" of Saravanamuttu’s behavior and his contribution to the Feb. 11 incident, Hillel@York and Hasbara@York are demanding that he step down as president of the student body.

Also last week, York said it would not interfere with an upcoming conference organized by faculty members and academics from other institutions titled "Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace."

B’nai Brith Canada called the conference a "blatant exercise in anti-Zionist propaganda … which questions the Jewish state’s very right to exist."

In a statement Mamdouh Shoukri, York’s president and vice-chancellor, said it would be "entirely inappropriate for the university administration to intervene in or to take responsibility for the academic content of such events, provided that they do not offend Canadian law, are consistent with the obligations cited above and deal with issues that are appropriate for academic debate."

Jewish students commended Shoukri for another statement in which he turned aside a proposed boycott of Israeli academics. An academic boycott "is antithetical to the very purpose of a university," Shoukri said, adding that York "has consistently opposed the call to boycott Israeli universities."

Last week, three Jewish advocacy groups announced that they are launching a commission to study the quality of Jewish life at York.

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