Independent Jewish Voices Concordia Releases Letter Condemning CSU Councillor
Activists Condemn James Hanna for Quoting Anti-Semitic Youtuber
Independent Jewish Voices Concordia, a Jewish organization supporting Palestine, released an open letter, signed off by Hillel Concordia on Wednesday condemning Concordia Student Union councillor James Hanna for quoting a Youtuber many on campus describe as a neo-nazi.
The Link revealed on Oct. 31 that Hanna had been told he failed mandatory consent training and was asked to retake it. In a Facebook post, video, as well as in interviews with The Link, James Hanna quoted Mark Meechan, a Scottish man who taught his girlfriend’s pug to lift its paw to the phrases “Gas the Jews” and “Sieg Heil.”
“I am no criminal, I have committed no crime, I have done nothing wrong, I will not be punished. I will not take a lesser punishment when I shouldn’t even be punished to begin with. I will not be bullied and I will not stand idly by while my good name is slandered,” said one of Hanna’s posts on Facebook.
After posting videos of the dog complying to his commands, Meechan was later charged with a £800 fine failed to appeal his conviction to the High Court.
Hanna declined to comment before speaking to an attorney.
“This incident of a CSU councillor quoting a neo-Nazi is only one part of a larger groundswell of hate,” said the letter. “However, it is one that speaks towards a larger climate within Concordia’s community in which such attitudes are given allowance to develop. We find this unacceptable; it is absolutely essential to speak out against and refuse any normalization of violence against Jews and other minorities whenever we witness it.”
IJV member and co-writer of the letter, Tali Ioselevich, said that the point of the letter was to show that Jewish students won’t let this kind of rhetoric slide, especially in the current political climate when synagogues are targets for mass shootings.
“When things happen on our campus that normalize this rhetoric we have to stand against them no matter how small,” said Ioselevich.
“James Hanna may contest that quoting this neo-nazi wasn’t an anti-semitic act, but as Jewish students we feel uncomfortable having someone like Hanna being a council representative for the undergraduate student body,” they continued.
Ioselevich and other members of IJV not only want an apology from Hanna, but also want him to take more sensitivity training and show that he is open to taking accountability for his actions. They also alluded that Hanna is known to have made racist and sexist comments which led to him being told he failed consent training.
“It is important to remember that whenever we give hate speech a platform or reception, it provides a space for those ideas to fester and spread,” IJV wrote in the letter. “We expect every student to be treated with dignity and respect, and we place an even greater expectation upon our elected representatives to model these values, and extend an attitude of understanding and inclusion to every campus member.”
A previous version of this article stated that Mark Meechan is a neo-nazi. This article has been updated to note that students on campus tend to refer to Meechan as a neo-nazi instead.