An honorary degree being bestowed upon controversial philosopher Judith Butler isn’t sitting well with some at Montreal’s McGill University.
In a letter to McGill Chancellor Arnold Steinberg, Hillel McGill and McGill Students for Israel (MSI)- which have encouraged students on campus to support their position with letters to Steinberg or principal Heather Munroe -Blum — said Butler’s “pro-terror, anti-Israel position” makes her a terrible role model for graduates.
“We consider the honour McGill is about to bestow on Professor Butler astounding and deeply offensive,” reads the letter. “We urge you to rethink this decision.”
Butler has caused no shortage of outrage due to her views on terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah and her support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to isolate Israel culturally, economically and academically.
Once students are made aware of Butler’s position on Israel, they will be disappointed with the university’s decision, MSI co-president Ilana Donohue told the Montreal Gazette.
“She’s an accomplished scholar, but her views on Israel would be quite disturbing to many students,” Donohue said. “She doesn’t believe in a Jewish state and we want other schools to think twice before giving her awards because it offends students.”
Jeff Bicher, executive director of Hillel Montreal, said while he supports the students’ position, “we do not believe that the honorary degree for her academic work condones in any way her anti-Israel activism.”
Christopher Manfredi, McGill’s dean of arts, said Butler is receiving the doctorate in recognition of her work and that McGill is committed to freedom of expression even if “comments are controversial or considered objectionable by some.”