Jewish federation urges Vancouver college to fire instructor who praised Hamas attacks

Published Oct. 30, 2023 10:01 p.m. ET
Updated Nov. 1, 2023 10:56 p.m. ET

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At a pro-Palestinian rally on Saturday, Dr. Natalie Knight, an English instructor at Langara College, addressed the crowd.

In her remarks on the Vancouver Art Gallery steps, Knight called the October 7 attacks by Hamas that left 1,400 Israelis dead and hundreds more kidnapped, “the amazing, brilliant offensive waged on October 7.”

The comment, which drew cheers from the crowd, horrified the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver.

“For somebody to mischaracterize the massacre of innocent men, women and children by a Canadian-designated terrorist group Hamas as brilliant and amazing is incredibly painful for community members to hear,” said Ezra Shanken.

Knight is currently employed by Langara, and in 2019, she was awarded the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal by Simon Fraser University.

“I would ask the universities, both Langara and SFU, if they feel that it is a benefit to the school to be affiliated with somebody who is glorifying terrorist acts,” said Shanken, who wants both schools to cut all ties with Knight and condemn her remarks.

In a statement, Simon Fraser University said, “SFU does not agree with or support the comments made in any way.” The school isn’t revoking Knight’s award, which is given to top performing graduate students, but added, “Beyond being a graduate, this person has no affiliation with the university.”

In a statement, Langara said: “The college has learned that a staff member shared their personal views that do not represent those of the college, and the matter is currently under investigation.”

Shanken says the Jewish federation isn’t backing down on calling for Knight to be fired. “We are going to put all of the pressure that’s necessary on Langara College for them to do the right thing.”

He added it’s a criminal offence to glorify terrorism in Canada, and believes authorities should act.

“We should be able to talk about Palestinian rights, which I believe in, in a peaceful way without dishonouring the memories of those who were massacred by Hamas,” said Shanken. “You can be pro-Palestinian, but you don’t have to be pro-terror.”

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