Issam Rimawi/APA images

As Hamas rockets rain down on Israel with more than a thousand Israelis killed by a string of terrorist attacks, several Canadian academics have expressed support online for Palestinians “taking their land back,” decrying so-called Israeli “colonialism.”

Canadian universities also issued vague statements following the attacks – with some not even acknowledging Israel.

Canadian scholars voice support for Gaza: 

As reported by the National Post, Wilfrid Laurier University social work professor Jessica Hutchison, who describes herself as a “white settler, abolition feminist,” claimed Palestinians were “taking their land back” from “settler colonizers.”

She also urged her colleagues to include Palestinians in their land acknowledgement rituals, writing “I hope your upcoming acknowledgements will include support for Palestinians who are taking their land back from settler colonizers.”

University of Toronto political science assistant professor Uahikea Maile, whose bio notes that he is interested in “feminist and queer theories,” wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that he stood for “decolonization and deoccupation” and “behind freedom for Palestine.”

“As Hawaiians wake up to the news of Palestinian anticolonial resistance in Gaza to Israeli settler colonialism, remember that – from Hawaii to Palestine – occupation is a crime. A lähui that stands for decolonization and deoccupation should also stand behind freedom for Palestine.”

Neither Hutchison nor Maile responded to a request for comment. 

McMaster social work associate professor Ameil Joseph, whose bio says he embraces the perspectives of postcolonial theory and critical race theory, noted that “postcolonial, anticolonial, and decolonial are not just words you heard in your EDI workshop.”

Following outrage over his initial post, he added “my tweet about colonialism is about attending to more than superficial analyses, to think about the historical, social, & political contexts of violence to undermine it. The disingenuous claims of that being support for violence are mostly via hate for analyses of coloniality.” 

In a statement to True North, Ameil said his initial post “did not mention Israel or Hamas or Palestine. It was about colonial analyses more broadly. I do not condone violence. My work is about understanding the contexts of violence to stop it.”

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 3906, which represents over 3000 academic workers at McMaster, wrote “Palestine is rising, long live the resistance” in a now-deleted X post.

Before the post was deleted, it was liked by CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn – who also lauded “resistance” on social media.

Universities issue vague statements:

Several of Canada’s public universities responded to the attack in Israel with vague statements.

In an X post Sunday, the University of Ottawa shared a link offering support to those affected by “the current hostilities between Israel and Hamas.”

The University of British Columbia (UBC) said it was “deeply saddened and concerned by the recent violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” as well as the loss of life across “the region.” The statement added that UBC’s thoughts are with all students, faculty and staff with family, professional, and academic ties to “the region.”

Toronto Metropolitan University, Brock University, Concordia University and King’s College at Western all issued social media statements about this weekend’s horrific events that did not explicitly acknowledge Israel.

Jewish groups disappointed:

Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs spokesperson Cory Hann slammed Canadian academics who chose to side with Gaza.

“Hamas terrorists have beheaded Israeli babies, they’ve raped young women, and paraded their tortured hostages around. They’ve kidnapped more than 100 Israelis, including children and Holocaust survivors. Hamas is responsible for the massacre of over 900 men, women, and young kids, and responsible for wounding 2,600 more. All the while eating sweets or singing in celebration, or worse calling the victims’ family so they can hear their loved one’s screams as they are being brutalized,” Hann said.

“To put it nicely, any professor choosing to stand on the side of those committing these utterly depraved and inhumane acts against innocent civilians is nothing short of morally corrupt and shows a complete lack of any human decency. Finding the words to unequivocally condemn such barbaric crimes is not difficult.

“Shame on these individuals.”

B’nai Brith Canada spokesperson Richard Robertson also shared his disappointment. 

“There can be no moral equivalency, no question of two sides, and no question of who is wrong, when placing sole responsibility on Hamas for the unimaginable atrocities it has committed,” he said. “Canadians understand that every country has the right and obligation to protect its citizens and sovereignty from terrorists.”

He added that B’nai Brith Canada is “disappointed that so many Canadian institutions of higher learning with students representing diverse communities, including the Jewish community, have failed to address with moral clarity these inhumane attacks.

“It is incumbent upon our universities to condemn these acts of terror by Hamas as they would a similar act in any other country.”