Canada’s New McGill Scientific Project of $29M Assaulted for Ties to Israel

08.09.22

Editorial Note

Last week, the Canadian McGill University launched the Sylvan Adams Sports Science Institute (SASSI). The new Institute aims to advance world-leading research into sports science and human performance. McGill received a $29-million donation gift from Sylvan Adams, a Quebec-born entrepreneur. The largest-ever gift given to a faculty of education in Canada. The Institute is the home of McGill’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education in the Faculty of Education, “ushering research and discovery in sports science with a long-term goal of improving elite human performance and promoting healthier living across the human lifespan. Through its support for the science of high performance, Adams’ gift also promotes a new lens through which to conduct health research – one that focuses on learning from the study of optimal health rather than disease,” per McGill’s website. 

McGill also reports that SASSI will comprise “state-of-the-art testing labs, training suites, research offices, and meeting rooms, in a new facility neighboring the Montreal Neurological Institute… Approximately $24.4 million will be used to build the facility and purchase equipment, while $4.6 million will be allocated to the development of the Institute’s sports science research program through the creation of research grants, scientific conferences, student fellowships, and international exchanges.”

In particular, the sports scientists will focus on “human performance during intense training, leveraging their respective and complementary research strengths in physiology, biomechanics, motor control, psychology, nutrition, and molecular biology.”

Overall, SASSI sounds very promising. It will focus on “studying elite athletes using evidence-based approaches with best practices, knowledge transfer, and scientific innovations.” 

This is, of course, great news for Canada in general and the sports field in particular.

Suzanne Fortier, McGill Principal, commented, “We are deeply grateful to Mr. Sylvan Adams for his generous gift in support of McGill’s Faculty of Education and its Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education… This contribution will allow McGill researchers and students to develop new insights into sports science education, research and practice, elevate the performance of Canadian athletes and improve our understanding of human health.” 

John McCall MacBain, McGill’s Chancellor, said, “Sylvan Adams’s extraordinary gift is a testament to his passion for sport and innovation… Thanks to his vision and support, the Sylvan Adams Sports Science Institute will position McGill as a leader in academic sports science research in Canada and internationally, with the resources to optimize performance, recovery, and health, not just in the world’s elite athletes, but in all of us.” 

However, Palestinian BDS activists targeted SASSI because its researchers will partner with other leading institutions, notably the Sylvan Adams Sports Institute (SASI) at Tel Aviv University (TAU), established in 2017. Adams, who is Jewish, is a respected philanthropist and passionate supporter of both countries’ sports, healthcare, education, and social programs. He also excels as a champion cyclist.

However, on behalf of the BDS movement, Yves Engler, a pro-Palestinian activist, interrupted the inauguration ceremony of SASSI on August 31, 2022, by shouting, “whether students have right to oppose killing of Palestinian children.” Engler wrote on his Twitter account, “I interrupted a big funding announcement today… The funding announcement was for a project that partners McGill and Tel Aviv university. The money was from arch anti-Palestinian Sylvan Adams, who has spent tens of millions of dollars with the explicit intent of white washing apartheid & violence.” The Palestinian media outlet Palestine Chronicle published an account by Engler on the incident.

Canada, like Australia – as IAM reported recently – is targeted by Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activists by using the connection to Israel. The allegations are scurrilous and come from the same playbook BDS operatives have used over the years: The notion that Israel is an apartheid state that the highly antisemitic NGOs Forum first propagated at Durban in 2001. Adams did not donate the money to Tel Aviv University to “whitewashing apartheid and violence.” Like McGill, Tel Aviv University has an outstanding academic reputation, and the collaboration between the two schools would benefit society at large. 

The BDS protestors should be reminded that following the Abraham Accords, the UAE, Morocco, and other Arab countries signed academic agreements with Israeli universities. The scientific cooperation between them and Israel is not for “whitewashing apartheid and violence.” It is a recognition that scientific collaboration would benefit the region and its people. 

Harassing McGill’s new science project is a cheap virtue signaling tactic to generate more headlines about Israel’s “apartheid state.” It does not benefit Canada’s higher education system; it aims to harm it. Even worse, it does not benefit the Palestinians who are caught in a cycle of “perpetual victimhood” and Iranian-sponsored jihadist violence known as the “Axis of Resistance.” 

References:

https://giving.mcgill.ca/all-stories/mcgill-launches-sylvan-adams-sports-science-institute-advance-world-leading-research
McGill launches Sylvan Adams Sports Science Institute to advance world-leading research into sports science and human performance

$29-million donation is largest-ever gift to a faculty of education in Canada

By McGill University Advancement

2022-08-31

A $29-million gift from Quebec-born entrepreneur Sylvan Adams will launch an exciting venture for McGill’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education in the Faculty of Education, ushering in a new era of world-leading research and discovery in sports science, with the long-term goal of improving elite human performance, and promoting healthier living across the human lifespan. Through its support for the science of high performance, Adams’ gift also promotes a new lens through which to conduct health research – one that focuses on learning from the study of optimal health, rather than disease.

The donation will support the creation of the Sylvan Adams Sports Science Institute (SASSI) comprising state-of-the-art testing labs, training suites, research offices, and meeting rooms, in a new facility neighbouring the Montreal Neurological Institute and adjacent to the Sir Arthur Currie Memorial Gymnasium on Pine Avenue West. Approximately $24.4 million will be used to build the facility and purchase equipment, while $4.6 million will be allocated to the development of the Institute’s sports science research program through the creation of research grants, scientific conferences, student fellowships, and international exchanges.

This gift represents the largest donation ever to a faculty of education in Canada.

“We are deeply grateful to Mr. Sylvan Adams for his generous gift in support of McGill’s Faculty of Education and its Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education,” said McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier. “This contribution will allow McGill researchers and students to develop new insights into sports science education, research and practice, elevate the performance of Canadian athletes and improve our understanding of human health.”

“Sylvan Adams’s extraordinary gift is a testament to his passion for sport and innovation,” said McGill’s Chancellor, John McCall MacBain. “Thanks to his vision and support, the Sylvan Adams Sports Science Institute will position McGill as a leader in academic sports science research in Canada and internationally, with the resources to optimize performance, recovery, and health, not just in the world’s elite athletes, but in all of us.”

Putting the focus on elite athletes

The new Institute at McGill will focus on studying elite athletes, using evidence-based approaches and best practices, knowledge transfer, and scientific innovations. SASSI researchers will partner with those at other leading institutions, notably the Sylvan Adams Sports Institute (SASI) at Tel Aviv University (TAU), established in 2017. 

Sylvan Adams noted: “I am pleased to support McGill’s work in sports science research. As a former Montrealer, I am especially proud to have this opportunity to invest in McGill’s track record of research excellence and potential for innovation – and contribute to building a culture of collaboration between McGill and Tel Aviv University.”

Together, McGill and TAU sports scientists will focus on human performance during intense training, leveraging their respective and complementary research strengths in physiology, biomechanics, motor control, psychology, nutrition, and molecular biology. 

“Collaboration will be one of the key pillars for the success of this institute,” said Dilson Rassier, Dean of McGill’s Faculty of Education. “This gift from Sylvan Adams will be the catalyst that will enable McGill, Tel Aviv University, and other collaborating universities from around the world to share information and ideas integral to research on sports science and advancing human performance.” 

About Sylvan Adams

A former Montrealer who led one of Canada’s largest real estate development companies, Sylvan Adams now lives in Tel Aviv, Israel. A respected philanthropist and passionate supporter of sports, healthcare, education and social programs in both countries, Adams boasts an impressive and diverse resume of accomplishments. In 2015, Sylvan Adams signed the Giving Pledge, established by Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Melinda French Gates, for philanthropists devoted to giving away a majority of their wealth to charitable causes. He also excels as a champion cyclist, having won multiple World Masters Championships, Canadian Masters championships and Quebec Masters titles.

Learn more about Sylvan Adams and this landmark gift to the Faculty of Education.

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McGill-Tel Aviv University Partnership: Why I Interrupted Major Funding Announcement

September 2, 2022

Canadian activist and writer Yves Engler. (Photo: Yves Engler website)

By Yves Engler

On Wednesday, August 31, I interrupted a major funding announcement at McGill to ask the head of the university about her suppression of Palestine solidarity.

As she spoke from the Faculty Club’s stage I asked Principal Suzanne Fortier, “Do McGill students have the right to oppose the killing of Palestinian children? Do they have the right to oppose Israeli colonialism and apartheid?” McGill’s principal failed to respond.

I then stated that her administration’s threat to cancel the student union’s funding after students voted overwhelmingly for a “Palestine Solidarity Policy” was “anti-democratic and anti-Palestinian”. I added it was “shameful” and made her “complicit in Israeli colonialism and violence”.

In 24 hours, my 70-second video has been viewed 80,000 times on Twitter. Though multiple corporate media outlets were in the room, they all appear to have ignored my disruption, which included me holding up a “Free Palestine” placard in the front of the room.

In March 71% of undergraduate students voted for a “Palestine Solidarity Policy” committing the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) to take a stand against Israel’s system of racial discrimination. The resolution called for a host of measures including SSMU divesting from and boycotting “corporations and institutions complicit in settler-colonial apartheid against Palestinians.”

In March 71% of McGill undergrads voted to boycott firms complicit in Israeli apartheid. Admin responded by threatening student union funding. I interrupted a big funding announcement today to ask McGill’s head whether students have right to oppose killing of Palestinian children pic.twitter.com/No39BrI3lL

— Yves Engler (@EnglerYves) August 31, 2022

In response, B’nai B’rith “called on McGill University to immediately cease funding SSMU until it rescinds this bogus referendum result.” McGill’s administration acted by threatening to terminate its Memorandum of Agreement with SSMU, which regulates fees, use of the name, and other matters between the university and the student union.

In response, students organized rallies and outside groups petitioned the administration with over a thousand individuals emailing Fortier. Rock legend Roger Waters, author Yann Martel, former MP Libby Davies, author Chris Hedges, and 200 others signed a public letter criticizing the administration’s threats as anti-democratic and anti-Palestinian. On the eve of his July 15 performance at Montreal’s Bell Centre, Waters participated in a well-mediatized online rally in support of McGill’s Palestine solidarity activists.

McGill is the site of the most important campus battles over Canadian complicity in Palestinian dispossession. On one side are those promoting student democracy, academic freedom, and universalist values. On the other side of the fence, there are powerful outside pressure groups, wealthy donors, and proponents of apartheid.

The event I disrupted highlights one element of the power balance. It was a funding announcement for a project that partners McGill with Tel Aviv University. In another step in the corporatization of higher education, Canadian-Israeli billionaire Sylvan Adams put up $29 million to establish the Sylvan Adams Sports Science Institute. In recent years Adams has plowed tens of millions of dollars into various sports and cultural initiatives explicitly designed to whitewash Israeli apartheid and violence.

Zionist donors have significant influence at McGill. Pro-Israel individuals have contributed far more money to the university than pro-Palestinian voices, which has greatly strengthened anti-Palestinianism among administrators focused on funding.

The Israel lobby understands the fundraising dynamic. As I detailed here, it’s not uncommon for pro-apartheid voices to publicly call on the Jewish community to withhold donations to universities to pressure them to clamp down on pro-Palestinian activism. An understanding of fundraising dynamics partly explains why B’nai B’rith is so emboldened in their reaction to McGill.

Last month B’nai Brith announced a lawsuit against McGill University, SSMU and student group Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), which sponsored the Palestine Solidarity Policy. B’nai Brith is suing an administration that effectively did what was asked of them by threatening SSMU’s funding arrangement. For their part, SSMU buckled in the face of administrative pressure and refused to ratify a Palestine solidarity policy backed by 71% of undergraduate voters.

In an interview with Rabble.ca, SPHR member Leila Kanafani labeled the suit “laughable”. She noted, “it’s ridiculous for B’nai Brith to also sue the McGill administration and the SSMU when they’re actually on their side and they’ve succeeded in stopping the policy from being implemented.” (SPHR says they haven’t been served with court documents so it’s unclear if B’nai Brith’s lawsuit announcement was simply a public relations exercise.)

Irrespective, B’nai Brith’s over-the-top response to student democracy has offered the Palestine solidarity movement a unique opportunity to talk about growing opposition to apartheid at Canada’s most famous university (and among youth more generally). Student activists have pushed back against the wealthy, pro-apartheid, forces dictating McGill’s policy.

SPHR says it won’t back down in the face of B’nai Brith’s legal threat. “I’m really not worried at all. In fact, it’s the opposite, we’re quite proud,” Kanafani told Rabble. “We’re going to walk on this campus with our heads held high. If this lawsuit is an attempt to intimidate us, to try and make us cower and afraid of bringing anything on, it’s invigorating us to do quite the opposite.”

 – Yves Engler is the author of Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid and a number of other books. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. Visit his website: yvesengler.com

=================================================================

Yves Engler

@EnglerYves

In March 71% of McGill undergrads voted to boycott firms complicit in Israeli apartheid. Admin responded by threatening student union funding. I interrupted a big funding announcement today to ask McGill’s head whether students have right to oppose killing of Palestinian children

9:58 PM · Aug 31, 2022

10:07 PM · Aug 31, 2022

Yves Engler

@EnglerYves

The funding announcement was for a project that partners McGill and Tel Aviv university. The money was from arch anti-Palestinian Sylvan Adams who has spent tens of millions of dollars with the explicit intent of white washing apartheid & violence

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