JDL head banned from York University

Meir Weinstein

The head of the Jewish Defence League of Canada has been banned from Toronto’s York University.

Meir Weinstein received a letter on March 2 from the law firm of Lenczner Slaght saying he is “prohibited from entering York University campuses at any time from this day forward for any reason whatsoever.”

The order extends to York’s three campuses – the main one on Keele Avenue, and those on Bayview Avenue and Dundas Street West.

Failure to comply would mean charges under trespass laws, Weinstein’s removal from campus, and the pursuit of damages, the letter warned.

William McDowell, the lawyer who signed the letter, referred The CJN’s inquiries to officials at York.

Yanni Dagonas, acting chief spokesperson for the university, said in an email, “It is the right of all York community members to express their views within the law and without fear of intimidation or harassment. As such, external groups with the intent to cause potential disruption are not welcome on university property. York reserves the right to issue trespass notices to anyone with similar intent.

York was the site of a violent clash between pro-Israel supporters and a counter-protest organized by Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) at an event on Nov. 20 sponsored by Herut Canada that brought IDF reservists to Canada.

Lauren Isaacs, Herut’s president at York, in a Facebook post, thanked Jewish motorcycle groups and the Jewish Defence League for providing security at the event. York University president Rhonda L. Lenton said the school had clarified ahead of the event that student groups are not permitted to arrange their own private security.

Weinstein denied York’s claims. “I have never done anything illegal at York University and respected the York University code of conduct when on their property,” he said in a statement posted to Facebook on March 4. “It is my opinion that I was singled out by the York University administration. And my opinion is that the York University administration is receptive to the (anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign against (the) JDL.”

Weinstein said his “targeting” by York is a “violation” of his human rights “and therefore is also anti-Semitic.”

He promised to “continue to expose anti-Semitism at York University and bring this information to the attention of the York University administration and government. The groups and persons who promote anti-Semitism at York University are the ones to be banned, not me.”

He asked for help “to fight this anti-Semitism.”

After the clash, Herut Canada and SAIA had certain privileges suspended at York after a “preliminary internal review.” Full privileges were restored to both student groups in January.

Lawyer Dimitri Lascaris, who has represented SAIA in the past, said in an email “to my knowledge, no member of SAIA York and no supporter of the organization or of the protest that SAIA York organized on Nov. 20 has been banned, suspended or punished in any way.”

York is conducting an internal review of the events of Nov. 20 and has hired former Supreme Court of Canada justice Thomas Cromwell to perform an external review.

Lascaris has submitted a report to Cromwell and the York administration on behalf of SAIA. Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center has also delivered a submission, prepared by law firm Fogler Rubinoff, on “the history of anti-Semitism at York University and the ways the administration has enabled anti-Semitism to fester,” according to a press release issued Feb. 28

The university said it may take further action with Herut and SAIA based on the findings and recommendations of the two inquiries.

Cromwell’s report is due later this month.