Concordia Hillel Strikes Back


After years of chafing under the rule of their university’s strongly pro-Palestinian student union, Hillel members at Montreal’s Concordia University are venting their frustrations (10 pages worth) in court.

The lawsuit, filed last week in Quebec Superior Court, comes in response to the Concordia Student Union’s vote earlier this month to suspend Hillel and freeze its funds. The student-run CSU argued that the draconian measure (made at a late-night meeting and with no advance notice) was justified because Hillel had been recruiting for the Israel Defense Forces, despite Canadian laws forbidding recruitment by overseas armies.

Hillel denied the charge, saying that the presence of a few stray flyers for Machal, a program through which diaspora Jews can volunteer in the Israeli army, was not authorized by Hillel and does not constitute recruitment.

Hillel’s lawsuit goes beyond the recent suspension, however. In addition to questioning the legitimacy of their ouster, they are accusing the CSU of consistently attempting "to promote and only permit the hearing of the voice of persons opposed to the State of Israel." They are also accusing the CSU of mismanagement and embezzlement.

According to the complaint, the CSU (which is "dominated by persons who are extremists, anarchists and anti-capitalists") has a history of "mismanagement of student funds, failure to observe its own bylaws, refusal to give access to information to which its members are entitled, obstructionism, intrigue and behavior inconsistent with a reasonably managed corporation responsible to represent all undergraduate students" at Concordia.

Among the specific charges outlined in the lawsuit: illegally blocking a slate of candidates that challenged the incumbents’ authority and politics, and allowing its member organizations "to distribute and post posters which are susceptible of constituting hate literature against the State of Israel and its supporters."

In addition to seeking changes from the CSU, the lawsuit also seeks an order that the Concordia administration "be compelled to enforce its rules, regulations and policies in respect of the respect of students, the use of university facilities and to preserve peaceful and civil discourse, regardless of the issue of debate."