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Queen’s

 Israel  on  Campus  Statement  re:  Nick  Day’s  Remembrance  Day  


Remarks  
 
I,  Mitchell  Rattner,  President  of  Queen’s  Israel  on  Campus,  speak  on  behalf  of  myself,  
my  co-­‐President,  Jacob  Martin,  and  our  executive  committee,  when  I  congratulate  
Craig  Draeger,  a  member-­‐at-­‐large  of  the  Queen’s  Alma  Mater  Society  (AMS)  who  in  
the  AMS  General  Assembly  meeting  of  November  11,  2010  put  forward  the  motion  
that  the  ‘AMS  Assembly,  in  order  to  preserve  the  political  neutrality  of  
Remembrance  Day,  formally  censure  Rector  Nick  Day  for  his  disrespectful  comment  
at  the  Remembrance  Day  ceremony  in  Grant  Hall  on  Nov.  11  2010.’  I  also  
congratulate  the  AMS  on  passing  this  motion,  thus  formally  censuring  Nick  Day  for  
his  blatant  lack  of  discretion  in  crafting  his  Remembrance  Day  remarks.  (A  full  
transcript  of  his  speech  is  available  at  
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/258629/Rector%20Remembrance%20Day.pdf.)  
 
We  support  this  censure  of  Nick  Day  for  the  following  reasons.  First,  he  abused  his  
position  and  the  podium.  Instead  of  adhering  to  the  decorum  and  spirit  of  
Remembrance  Day  and  paying  tribute  to  our  Canadian  soldiers,  past  and  present,  
who  have  served  and  died  for  our  country,  he  used  this  opportunity  to  argue  his  
opinions  on  a  range  of  controversial  political  topics.  Second,  he  blatantly  misquoted  
and  misconstrued  facts  about  Israel,  its  policies  and  its  history  in  order  to  provoke  
anti-­‐Israel  sentiment.  
 
We  are  offended  by  his  glaring  deviation  from  the  traditional  ethos  of  Remembrance  
Day.  Remembrance  Day  is  a  time  to  be  proud  of  being  Canadian,  to  embrace  our  
heritage,  and  pay  tribute  to  our  soldiers.  His  words  detracted  from  the  solemnity  
and  purpose  of  the  day.  Given  his  position  as  Rector  of  the  university  which  places  
him  in  the  position  of  being  the  students’  representative  to  the  administration,  and  
given  that  he  was  asked  to  speak  in  this  capacity  by  Rev.  Brian  Yealland,  Chaplain  of  
Queen’s  University,  we  are  shocked  by  Nick  Day’s  lack  of  judgment,  sense  of  his  
position,  and  overall  sensitivity  to  his  constituents.  He  alienated  and  offended  a  
large  contingent  of  those  he  is  supposed  to  represent.    
 
Additionally,  we,  the  IOC  executive,  support  the  censure  because  part  of  our  
responsibility  is  to  advocate  for  accuracy  when  it  comes  to  issues  related  to  Israel.  
To  quote  Nick  Day’s  speech:    
 
“He  [Mr  Day’s  grandfather]  would  have  been  dismayed  by  the  
following  order,  issued  by  the  Israeli  Defense  Force’s  central  
command  to  its  soldiers:  ‘when  our  forces  encounter  civilians  
during  the  war  or  in  a  raid,  the  encountered  civilians  may,  and  
even  must,  be  killed.  Under  no  circumstances  should  an  Arab  
be  trusted,  even  if  he  gives  the  impression  of  being  civilized.  ’”    
 
Here  is  the  original  quote,  taken  from  chapter  2,  part  ii  of  Edward  Said’s  book  The  
Question  of  Palestine.  The  differences  are  in  bold  font:    
 
“When  our  forces  encounter  civilians  during  the  war  or  in  the  
course  of  a  pursuit  or  a  raid,  the  encountered  civilians  may,  
and  by  Halachic  standards  even  must  be  killed,  whenever  it  
cannot  be  ascertained  that  they  are  incapable  of  hitting  
us  back.  Under  no  circumstances  should  an  Arab  be  trusted,  
even  if  he  gives  the  impression  of  being  civilized.”    
 
Nick  Day’s  omissions  betray  his  intent  to  condemn  Israel  and  inspire  anti-­‐Israel  
sentiment,  even  at  the  cost  of  false  misrepresentation.  From  Mr.  Day’s  presentation,  
one  might  logically  conclude  that  this  quotation  reflects  current  official  government  
policy,  but  this  is  utterly  untrue.  To  provide  accurate  context,  this  quotation  was  
published  in  a  theological  pamphlet  during  the  1973  Yom  Kippur  War.  The  quote  
was  originally  issued  by  Rabbi  Abraham  Avidan,  an  army  chaplain  for  the  Israel  
Defense  Forces,  not  a  combat  officer  or  politician.  As  consequence,  this  quote  is  
therefore  not  government  policy;  rather,  it  is  a  rabbinic  interpretation  of  wartime  
Halacha  (Jewish  law).  Lastly,  following  a  condemnation  of  the  pamphlet  by  Mapam  
(an  Israeli  political  party),  it  was  retracted.  Nick  Day’s  decision  not  to  provide  any  
historical  background  further  emphasizes  his  desire  to  misconstrue  ‘fact’.  
 
Although  we  do  congratulate  the  AMS  on  its  decision,  the  vote  of  14  yes,  10  no,  and  
11  abstentions,  indicates  that  there  is  a  need  for  greater  awareness  of  Nick  Day’s  
error.  As  students  of  Queen’s  university,  we  have  lost  faith  in  the  judgement  and  the  
abilities  of  our  Rector  to  represent  the  student  body  as  a  whole.  
 
 
This  issue  must  be  resolved  by  the  Queen’s  community.  
 
 
Mitchell  Rattner  
President,  Queen’s  Israel  on  Campus  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
If  you  have  questions  or  comments,  please  contact  Mitchell  Rattner  or  Jacob  Martin  
at  iocqueens@gmail.com