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Clearly antisemitic slogan doesn't just "mean different things to different people" as described by the senior Toronto education director

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Over 200 Toronto high school students held a walk-out last week to protest “anti-Palestinian racism”. (Photo: @PalestineTdsb Twitter)

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TDSB Director Colleen Russell-Rawlins’ letter responding to the demonstration at Marc Garneau CI last Friday sorely misses the mark. 

The slogan written on a sign used at the demonstration was “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free”. That is much different than a mere expression of Palestinians’ “human and land rights as people” she described in her letter.

If that were the intent of the slogan, it would read “From the River to the Sea, Palestinians will be free”. This is not nitpicking – words and their meanings do matter. 

Instead, that slogan is a call for the elimination of the State of Israel. 

If there is to be a sovereign state of Palestine whose territory is to extend from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, then the State of Israel would necessarily have to disappear. In other words, the necessary implication of this slogan is that there is something fundamentally immoral about the very existence of a State of Israel, and that Israeli Jews are alien intruders in a country that doesn’t properly belong to them.

(Incidentally, this is a recurring theme in the emails that TDSB employee Javier Davila sent around last May. These materials repeatedly refer to “illegal Jewish settlers” and Israeli Jews as “settler colonialist.”) 

This slogan therefore reflects the antisemitic trope that Jews have no indigenous homeland, and are at root foreigners and interlopers everywhere they go.

So this slogan doesn’t just “mean different things to different people” as described by the TDSB Director; it has a clear antisemitic foundation and is no less odious than the notorious “14 words” used by white supremacists:  “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”.

Beyond the TDSB’s tolerance for this slogan, the TDSB has a really hard time summoning up the courage to deal seriously with anti-Israel bigotry. 

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By now it’s well known to everyone at the TDSB executive team that Javier Davila’s emails from May 16, 2021 and May 19, 2021 contained no fewer than four links to pro-terrorist websites, including to a pamphlet which characterizes suicide bombings against Israelis as “legitimate … martyrdom operations”, the autobiography of serial airplane hijacker Leila Khaled, to the archived propaganda of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (designated as a terrorist entity by Public Safety Canada) and to an interview with PFLP leader Ghassan Kanafani. 

There’s a real problem with the message the TDSB is sending through differential consequences administered to TDSB staff who commit acts of anti-Black racism (justifiably dismissed from employment within three weeks of the incident) and TDSB staff who create a poisoned working and learning environment by circulating ‘educational resources’ that link to pro-terrorist websites (apparently nothing). 

By not coming clean on why there were no consequences to Javier Davila, and not coming clean about the TDSB’s investigation process, the TDSB is failing in its duties of transparency and accountability as a public institution. 

What’s particularly troubling is that a former Ministry of Education officer named Debbie Kasman has bragged on her website that a letter she sent to each TDSB trustee, in which she accused former TDSB Director Karen Falconer of being potentially biased against Palestinians because she is Jewish, may have had an effect on Mr. Davila’s reinstatement.

There is something very mysterious and rotten about the way this investigation was handled, and the TDSB owes an honest and complete explanation to the community.

Michael Teper is an Ontario lawyer, TDSB graduate, and parent of several current and graduated TDSB students. He attests that he is not and never has been an employee or independent contractor of any organization mentioned in this article, and has neither received nor will receive a fee for writing this article from anyone.
 
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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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