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Paul Bronfman pulls support of York U over 'anti-Semitic' mural

Last Updated Jan 25, 2016 at 8:51 pm EST

A mural hanging in York University’s student centre that some deem anti-Semitic has prompted media mogul Paul Bronfman to pull his support from the university.

In a story posted on the pro-Israel website Never Again Canada on Sunday, Bronfman was quoted promising to pull William F. White, the media equipment company he heads, out of the university if the painting is not taken down.

“The upshot is that if that poster is not going by the end of day today then William F. White is out of York,” he said. “York is going to lose thousands of dollars of television production equipment used for emerging student filmmakers, access to technical people who do education and student training and student seminars, workshops and open houses at William F. White Center that help them develop the hard skills needed to fill industry infrastructure positions like gaffer or grip: they will no longer be invited. York University will be persona non grata at William F. White International until they take that poster down.”

The mural depicts a man with rocks in his hands looking at a bulldozer near a building. On his back is a Palestinian flag and a map of Israel without borders. Below that are the words Justice and Peace.

“If a mural condoning violence against any other nation was hung on campus, it would rightfully be condemned.Only when it pertains to Jews do we see this disturbing double standard.” – Danielle Shachar

In The Canadian Jewish News, one psychology student active in Israel advocacy says walking past the mural makes her feel unsafe.

“If a mural condoning violence against any other nation was hung on campus, it would rightfully be condemned,” Danielle Shachar said. “Only when it pertains to Jews do we see this disturbing double standard.”

According to the article, there have been been a number of anti-Israel protests and hateful graffiti appearing on campus. Shachar describes the campus as “a breeding ground for violence, hate and discrimination against Israel and its student supporters.”

In a statement from York University, Joanne Rider said the artwork displayed in the Student Centre is overseen by a separate Board of Directors and is a separate legal entity from the University.

“We consulted widely with experts who told us that we are not in a legal position to compel the Student Centre leadership to remove the artwork,” she said, adding that the school encourages freedom of expression.

“Freedom of expression is one of York’s guiding principles. Members of the York community have the right to express their views and to test and challenge ideas, provided they do so within the law and in a peaceful and non-threatening manner. We are an inclusive university and we care about how our students feel.”

She also said she is disappointed with Bronfman’s decision to pull his company’s support of the school.

“We deeply regret Mr. Bronfman’s decision and would like to thank him for his support,” she says in the release. “Our Arts, Media, Performance and Design students have benefited from the experiential learning activities made possible by his generosity.”