I really don’t know if this is indicative of a culture or of this girl’s lack of reasoning skills but 22 year old York University student Sarah Grunfeld has accused professor Cameron Johnston of antisemitism after he made remarks in his Social Sciences 1140: “Self, Culture and Society” course, delivered before approximately 500 other rational students who were not offended, that could have been misconstrued if taken out of context. Sarah Grunfeld took exception with Cameron Johnston’s description of opinions that are not worthy of discussion with his statement: “All Jews should be sterilized.” Again, without really needing to go into explanation, this was an example of an opinion not worthy of discussion, not the professor’s personal opinion. No other students in the class have come forward as being offended because it is not meant offensively. Cameron Johnston is Jewish himself. Sarah Grunfeld immediately turned this into a fiasco for all involved by contacting Oriyah Barzilay, a member of Hasbara, a pro-Israel campus organization at York University who, according to TheStar.com, “sent a press release to media and other Jewish community groups calling for Johnston to be fired.”
This was all done on the account of one offended girl. A Jewish man is accused of antisemitism because of some immature lady in his class who possesses questionable reasoning abilities and the self-importance of a crusader. In a show of humility and compassion, Johnston states, “I think it’s a very good thing that people are sensitive to this kind of remark, and I think it’s a very good thing that someone would respond immediately and deal with it if they thought that they heard an anti-Semitic comment. But in this case, it’s a misreading.” No kidding. So what say ye, Sarah Grunfeld, defender of justice? Firstly, Sarah says that the context surrounding the statement doesn’t matter; rather, it simply matters that Cameron Johnston merely uttered the sentence. Secondly, she questions whether Professor Johnston is really Jewish at all. Ms. Grunfeld, you are quite immature. I don’t really need to know much more about her because she sounds like a nightmare. What is sad about this whole tale is the extent to which words do have consequences, and even examples of antisemitic statements made by a Jewish professor can not only call him and his career into question but his very Jewishness as well. It is as if dialogue about the Holocaust and the Nazis cannot occur for fear of offending someone by explicating how evil the Third Reich’s ‘opinions’ were and their effect on an educated industrial society.
Asked about whether she thought the professor was lying about being Jewish, Sarah Grunfeld said that she didn’t know but maybe he was Jewish and he thought that gave him license to say incendiary things about other Jews. Again, Sarah, you’re just not really worthy of a degree from a institution of higher learning if you cannot judge statements by context. Kelly McParland of The National Post writes: “You know, maybe it’s not Prof. Johnston who needs sensitivity training. B’nai Brith earns itself no respect when it insists on berating an innocent university professor over a mistake made by an excitable student. Anti-Semitism is an authentic scourge and needs to be treated more seriously than this. Popping off at every half-baked complaint only reduces the credibility of the organization and its claims.” I cannot agree with this statement more. There is genuine antisemitism in this world that merits serious attention. Accusations by flighty, sensationalistic and misguided people like Sarah Grundel only help to detract from the cause of eliminating bigotry in all its forms. Again, she’s fairly dishonorable because she questions her professor’s stated Jewish heritage as if he is using this as a ploy to escape some snare. She has not ensnared anyone but herself, and quite a mess it is.