U of T shuts down pro-Israel tent protest while anti-Israel encampment remains

Double Standards 101: A large pro-Hamas illegal encampment has occupied the lawns at U of T for a month. But the same day a pro-Israel illegal encampment went up, it was taken down. Why?

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At the University of Toronto in downtown Hogtown, one is forgiven for paraphrasing a certain George Orwell phrase. Namely, “All illegal encampments are equal – but some illegal encampments are more equal than others.” That’s what U of T student Joshua Samuels found out the hard way on Sunday.

That’s when he attempted to set up a pro-Israel illegal encampment at King’s College Circle, right next door to the pro-Hamas illegal encampment. So-called “Little Gaza” has occupied the lawns of the university for more than a month now thanks to spineless administrators refusing to call the Toronto Police. (The area is technically private property, so the cops need permission from the university to move in and enforce the law.)

Alas, U of T president Meric Gertler (a.k.a., Toronto’s most invisible man next to Mitch Marner) continues to dither. This vile encampment is an example of free speech or something (please disregard the signs calling for the genocide of the Jewish people.) And so it remains…But turnabout is not fair play.

Which is to say when Joshua Samuels and a handful of allies decided to set up a pro-Israel encampment south of Little Gaza, special constables were dispatched by the U of T administration to immediately shut it down. We returned to the “scene of the crime” the following day to interview Joshua, who bemoaned the outrageous and inexplicable double standards being embraced by U of T. As well, we reached out to U of T’s media relations department with five specific questions:

  1. Why was Mr. Samuels singled out for such treatment given that for more than a month several pro-Hamas demonstrators have been camped out at the U of T and they have not been harassed by law enforcement? Can you explain the double standard?
  2. Who directed the special constables to harass Mr. Samuels in such a fashion? Were they taking their orders from U of T administration?
  3. For weeks now, I have been asking, with no response from your department, why the fence is still up given that the fence was intended to prevent the encampment from going up but is now being used to the advantage of the trespassers. So, again, why has the fence not been taken down and how much is this fence rental costing the university?
  4. Why doesn't the U of T follow the lead of the University of Calgary and simply call the Toronto Police Service to enforce the Trespass Act?
  5. Some administrators say this encampment is about free speech. Really? This encampment is essentially a gated community in which illegal trespassers are acting as the landlords choosing who gets in and who does not. Why is this being tolerated?

Alas, the media relations department again avoided answering most of our queries and supplied the following statement:

“The university respects our members’ rights to assemble and protest within the limits of U of T policies and the law. The entire fenced-in area of King’s College Circle, however, remains off-limits to people and structures and subject to a trespass order.

A counterprotest Sunday involving a potential second encampment in the previously unoccupied fenced in area on the south end of the circle was on a scale that Campus Safety personnel were able to peacefully remove it without the assistance of the Toronto Police Service (TPS). Preventing any new encampment is consistent with our goal from the outset to find a resolution to the existing unauthorized encampment on front campus that monopolizes space for prolonged periods of time and unfairly prevents access to a shared-use space for all members of our community. For removal of the main encampment, TPS has made clear it will only act in situations involving an emergency to enforce the law and protect public safety, or act in accordance with a court order, which the university is seeking.”

Bottom line: the pro-Hamas illegal encampment advocating genocide has apparently been “grandfathered”; any other illegal encampments (populated with peaceful protesters) are tent cities non grata. Does this make sense to anyone?

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