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Langara investigating after instructor called Hamas attack ‘amazing’

By CityNews Staff

There are calls for Langara College to discipline an instructor who was seen calling Hamas’ attack on Israel “amazing” and “brilliant.”

Natalie Knight took to the mic at a rally in Vancouver on Saturday to address the crowd that had gathered.

“We are members of a revolutionary mass organization in East Vancouver called United in Struggle. We unite workers, Indigenous people, and all oppressed people to fight back against the ruling elites,” she said.

In her speech, Knight mentioned the “determination and ingenuity” of six Palestinian political prisoners who had escaped from Gilboa prison in Israel using nothing but eating utensils.

She likened the attack by Hamas in early October to their triumph.

“Two years ago, two years ago in September of 2021, six political prisoners dug their escape out of a maximum security prison using only spoons. Amazing. This was a feat of determination and ingenuity, only eclipsed, only eclipsed by the amazing, brilliant offensive waged on Oct. 7th,” Knight said.

“United in Struggle upholds the unqualified right to resist and fight back against imperialist aggression, colonialism, and genocidal campaigns of the Israeli state.”

Calls grow for Langara to take action against instructor

The views expressed by Knight at the Saturday gathering have repeatedly been condemned by a growing number of people, including many who rallied in support of Palestinians over the weekend and before.

Many pro-Palestinians have denounced the violence and attacks by both Hamas and Israel, with calls for a ceasefire continuing as the death toll mounts across the region.

Clips of Knight’s speech have been shared on social media, with many calling Knight’s comments out and pushing Langara College to take action.

David Shmil, the former president of the post-secondary school’s Jewish Student Association and who is still an active student, is among those joining growing calls.

“I think Knight needs to face consequences,” Shmil told CityNews in an interview when asked about calls for her dismissal as an instructor. “How much is enough for consequences? I’m not her judge or jury, but she does need to face some form of consequences.”

When Shmil saw the video of Knight making the comments, he admits it was difficult to watch.

“It hurts to see anybody say ‘amazing’ and ‘brilliant’ about the death of so many people,” Shmil said. “I don’t think any death should be celebrated in that way. You shouldn’t be celebrating the death of 1000 people. You shouldn’t be celebrating the death of 100 people. It’s a terrible thing to call it a “brilliant” thing that Hamas has done.”

Meanwhile, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs called Knight’s comments “absolutely disgusting,” adding, “the glorification of terror has NO place in Canada.”

BC United Leader Kevin Falcon was also among those to condemn Knight’s speech, saying “celebrating the murders for more than 1400 innocent civilians is abhorrent.”

“We all must speak up when we see such vile behaviour taking place here in British Columbia. It is completely unacceptable. This is not who we are as a province,” he added.

In a statement, Langara College confirms to CityNews it is looking into the matter.

“snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ Langara College is deeply saddened at the continuing violence and tragic loss of life in the Middle East,” the statement reads.

“We grieve for the innocent victims and their families, and all those suffering from the escalation of violence. There is no place for any form of hatred in our community, and we will continue to support our students, staff, and faculty who are affected by these events.

“The College has learned that a staff member shared their personal views that do not represent those of the College, and the matter is currently under investigation.”

Knight received Simon Fraser University’s Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal in 2019.

In a social media post, SFU says it “does not agree with nor support … in any way” the “comments from a 2019 recipient” of the medal.

“At SFU there is no place for racism, including Islamophobia or anti-Palestinian hate, antisemitism or anti-Israeli hate. Acts of hate, violence and discrimination are not acceptable,” the statement on X reads.

“The Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal is awarded to students in recognition of academic excellence in their graduate program, upon graduation at SFU. Beyond being a graduate of SFU, this person has no current affiliation with the university.”

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