(JTA) – A McGill University student leader who advised on Twitter to “punch a Zionist today” is refusing to resign or retract the comment amid rising Jewish anger on campus against him. Council member Igor Sadikov did not relent at what was described as a “tense” meeting of the student union legislative council on Thursday. According to witnesses who attended, Sadikov appeared to double down on his stance, arguing that Jews were not a “a legitimate ethnic group,” according to B’nai Brith Canada. “I have never felt so targeted, disgusted or disappointed in my life,” Jewish McGill student Molly Harris later wrote in a post on Facebook.
Sadikov, who also is active in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, has denied he is antisemitic, noting that his father is Jewish and his mother is half-Jewish. He said his original tweet, which he later deleted, was meant to criticize a “political philosophy,” not Jews. McGill has condemned Sadikov, joining the Jewish groups B’nai Brith, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The university’s undergraduate arts society formally called on Sadikov to resign and B’nai Brith asked police to investigate whether Sadikov had incited hatred with his tweet.
But the mass condemnation seemed to do little to appease pro-Israel students at McGill, who say they feel increasingly isolated and vulnerable on campus. At the Feb. 9 meeting, according to reports, council members voted by a wide margin against censuring Sadikov, while a leader of McGill’s BDS group asked why an individual “pro-Zionist” member of the council was not being impeached. Critics at the meeting charged that council members stayed silent as Sadikov took his stand and also in reaction to the pro-BDS speaker. McGill’s student union also has the power to impeach Sadikov, but has not moved to do so.
The campus newspaper, The McGill Daily, which Sadikov once served as editor, recently enacted a policy to ban “pro-Zionist” opinion from its pages.