Feb. 26, 2016
An open letter from Robert Lantos, Canada’s most prominent film producer and the driving force behind hit movies such as Eastern Promises and Barney’s Version:
Dear Dr. Shoukri,
I have observed over the years the transformation of York University from an academic institution into an incubator of hate and violence against the Jewish people. The disgraceful intimidation of Jewish students on your campus, coupled with the relentless defamation of Israel and your indifference to it all, have no place in a peace loving, liberal democracy like ours.
Under your watch, the university has lost its way as a place of learning, tolerance and diversity. You have taken shameful refuge behind legal cover and invoked neutrality in the anti Semitic mural controversy, which itself is symptomatic of the overall toxic environment on your campus. You stay on the sidelines rather than use the power of your office to stand up to the storm troopers who turn your institution into a podium for the incitement to violence against the Jewish people. In my film Sunshine, there is a character who, after the genocide of Hungary’s Jewish population, asks an eyewitness, “How could you just let it happen?” A bystander with the power to intervene who chooses to do nothing ceases to be a bystander. He becomes indistinguishable from the perpetrator. If you are not part of the solution Dr. Shoukri, you become part of the problem.
I urge you, in your capacity as President of York, to take immediate and concrete action to remove the offensive mural as the first step toward restoring an atmosphere of peace and respect on your campus. Sweep Jew hatred to the gutter, where it belongs.
Robert Lantos, CM