By Nicole Cohen
As news of the terrorist attacks in the United States unfolded throughout the day, Jewish and Muslim students struggled to deal with accusations that the attacks were directly related to the conflicts in the Middle East. Jewish Student Association president Jacob Moshinsky watched reports of the attack on television. His thoughts immediately turned to the recent wave of Israeli- Palestinian violence. “It definitely has something to do with the Middle East,”he said, “either directly or indirectly. “This creates a huge tragedy world wide,” he said from his perch in front of a TV in the Ram in the Rye. “It’s a very negative critical situation in Middle East.” Ahsanjafri, a second-year computer science student who’s originally from Pakistan, was careful not to lay blame too quickly “After the Oklahoma bombing, everyone blamed it on the Muslims right away, but it turned out to be one of their own,” he said. The media assumptions made in the Oklahoma bombing are the reason Jewish third-year Journalism student Paul Chodirker isn’t making assumptions about a connection to the Middle East either. “I don’t speculate anymore.” Jafri isn’t surprised the United States was targeted. “Out of the 400 Muslim students at Ryerson, I’d say about 399 aren’t surprised, he said. “No one would condone this kind of action, but it’s not surprising that someone would attack the U.S.”
Rubin Friedman, national communications director for the Canadian Jewish Congress, said there was no immediate cause for concern in the Jewish community. “I don’t ascribe blame at this point,” he said hours after the at- tacks. “People are making assumptions.” He said Canadian buildings with Israeli and American interest have been evacuated, but no Jewish buildings have specifically responded to the attacks.
Classes in the Centre for Jewish studies at York University were not cancelled, but Merle Lightman, an assistant at the centre, said the building was relatively empty. Jack Gryn, former president of Ryerson’s Jewish Student Association and president of the Ryerson-based chapter of AEPI, a Jewish fraternity, said the Jewish community should not jump to conclusions until there is confirmation of who is responsible for the attacks. “Jewish and all other organizations should take some form of precaution.” Jafri said Muslim laws look down upon warfare, but believes that “millions of innocent Muslims” are killed daily. “I feel for the victims, and I’m not saying it’s right,” he said, “but the U.S. has done similar attacks all over the world.”
– With files from Siri Agrell