CAMPUS WATCH: Queen’s University investigating after Palestinian flag raised on clock tower

Ontario’s Queen’s University says it’s investigating a break and enter incident after a Palestinian flag was raised on the flagpole atop of its clock tower last week.

The Kingston postsecondary school, however, backtracked on using the word “hate-motivated” in a statement it issued on the matter.

“On Friday, March 8, a Palestinian flag was hung on the flagpole of the Grant Hall clocktower on university campus,” said Queen’s. “Campus Security and Emergency Services attended the scene and immediately removed the flag.”

The university added that “this incident was the result of a break and enter” and that “Campus Security alongside Kingston Police are investigating the incident.”

The statement initially also said that “campus community members who experience or witness a hate-motivated act or have concerns for their physical safety should contact Campus Security or local police immediately.”

The term “hate-motivated” was later replaced by “unlawful” amid backlash from anti-Israel activists.

In a statement to True North, Yos Tarshish, the president of the Queen’s Jewish Hillel group, acknowledged the university’s “swift action” in addressing the flag.

“We believe it is essential for the responsible parties to be appropriately sanctioned by the university,” he said.

This is not the only anti-Israel controversy that has rocked the reputed Kingston institution in the months following Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre.

Last fall, police were called to an off campus Halloween party after three Queen’s students reportedly showed up dressed as Hamas terrorists and made threats to the Jewish community. One of the individuals was allegedly armed with a knife. 

Police and Queen’s University conducted an investigation, but no charges were laid.

Queen’s gender studies department, in the weeks following Oct. 7, issued a statement of solidarity with Palestine that attempted to contextualize the attacks. The statement denounced Israel as a “settler colonial state.”

The department, however, refused to subsequently denounce Palestine’s brutal treatment of LGBT people, despite multiple queries from True North on the matter.

Queen’s has also been subjected to anti-Israel protests on its campus.

Amidst this, Jewish students and alumni launched a $15 million against the university, accusing it of having failed to provide a safe campus environment for them amid not adequately addressing antisemitism.

“It’s time (the university) listen to Jewish students,” said Darryl Singer, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, in an interview with Queen’s student paper.  “I think the university administration needs to actually have the balls to stand up and look at the reality and listen to what Jewish students are saying.”

The allegations have not been tested in court.

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