Since January, Students Against Israeli Apartheid at York University has been alerted to the numerous charges of anti-Black racism against Rania Khalek. SAIA was also made aware how inviting Rania Khalek to give a keynote speech on campus would create a hostile environment for many students, especially Black students. In bringing Rania Khalek after not considering the harm that could be done and valid concerns is co-signing such behaviour. The lack of respectable response to earlier calls throughout the past few months has been disturbing. A group like SAIA who operates with an anti-colonial/anti-oppressive framework should take concerns raised by multiple students seriously.
We supported the call out from the York University Black Graduate Student’s Collective to boycott the keynote address being given by Rania Khalek. ACE shares similar values with SAIA, of anti oppression, and is against Israeli Apartheid. However, we do not support the ways in which this student organisation has handled complaints and criticism of this invited speaker by their own membership, by multiple students on campus, and many Black people at York University and internationally.
We hope that this experience will lead to SAIA’s honest and open engagement in dialogue on anti-Black racism and organising with their membership and with other student groups that are in solidarity with Palestine. We recognize that York University is a hostile environment for anti-Israeli Apartheid organising but there must be space for criticisms and conversations from and with students on how this organising can be more inclusive. In our organising, we must strive to avoid replicating systems of oppression based on race, gender, etc. and in this case specifically, anti-Black racism. Often these criticisms are dismissed as identity politics and divisive of the left but in actuality, we can not strengthen and build our movements without engaging with interlocking oppressions, different privileges and having honesty about such nuanced differences.
Accessibility, Community, Equity Committee (ACE)