The McGill University pro-Hamas student group, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights McGill, which openly praised the Oct. 7 attack against Israel as “heroic” while celebrating the launching of rockets and taking of hostages, has been ordered to stop using the university’s name.
The organization, known for labelling Hamas as “the resistance,” says it is outraged by the decision and will not comply.
In a statement, McGill’s undergraduate student union, which is responsible for clubs on campus, said the order to stop using the name resulted from failed negotiations involving the union, the student group and the university.
McGill had requested in October that the student union revoke the pro-Palestine group’s permission to use the school’s name. Then in November, the university followed up, telling the union they were in default of their memorandum of agreement.
“We have spent this 30-day working period liaising between (Society for Palestinian Human Rights) and the administration. We have had multiple meetings with both parties attempting to reach a mutual agreement and understanding to resolve the issue without removal of the McGill name. However, this effort was not fruitful and we were not able to reach an agreement.”
“As such, we regret to announce that (the society) will no longer be able to use the McGill name.”
In response, the Palestinian group said in a statement to the Montreal Gazette, “we are rejecting this name change because we are McGill students who have a right to political expression on the McGill campus.”
“This is just another blatant way to smear the only group on campus which is representing Palestinian students.”
The university, meanwhile, told the paper it was not suppressing free speech rights.
“The university cannot be, or seen to be, associated with a celebration of the taking of civilian hostages. This post by (the Society for Palestinian Human Rights) was antithetical to the university’s values and stands to undermine the important work aimed at bringing our community together through the Initiative Against Islamophobia and Antisemitism.”
“While (the society) may choose to express itself in the manner it wishes, it may no longer do so using McGill’s name,” added Murley.
In addition to praising the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Facebook, the Palestinian human rights group has organized and promoted several anti-Israel protests on McGill’s campus, including walkouts and sit-ins.
The McGill student union has faced challenges with the administration in the past including over holding an anti-Israel referendum demanding that the university denounce Israel’s war against Hamas. It additionally, called for the university to cut ties with parties allegedly complicit in genocide or “settler-colonialism”.
Although the motion was adopted with 78.7% support, its ratification was stopped shortly after a McGill student aided by Jewish group B’nai Brith Canada successfully obtained a temporary injunction against the “discriminatory” initiative.
“The notion of voting that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza is offensive and has no business in student politics,” B’nai Brith’s Quebec regional director Hank Topas told The Canadian Jewish Journal.