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“The fact that there is this hatred in the air is due completely to a lack of education” said Rabbi Nechemia Deitsch, director of Chabad of Midtown, calling it “an embarrassment to society.”

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An assistant professor at Lewis & Clark Law School, David Schraub, pointed out that “the Nexus definition of antisemitism specifically includes as a species of antisemitism "conditions that discriminate against Jews and impede their ability to participate as equals in political, religious, cultural, economic, or social life." (Image: @BDSreport)

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(JNS) Just days before a report concerning antisemitism on campus is set to be released, the student union at a branch of the University of Toronto voted in favor of a radical BDS measure against Israel.

The resolution by the Scarborough Center Students Union, which was passed on Nov. 24, says, in part, that it will “refrain from engaging with organizations, services or participating in events that further normalize Israeli apartheid.” That includes “inviting speakers who are representing the Israel Defense Force or support the military occupation of Palestine, the displacement, incarceration and/or killing of Palestinian people.”

“Individuals with a history of service in the IDF but no current ties or support of the institution should not be held accountable for their required duty to serve,” it continues. The resolution even takes aim at kosher-food options, saying: “Efforts should be made to source kosher food from organizations that do not normalize Israeli apartheid …” The wording adds that exceptions can be made if “no alternatives are available.”

It was met with immediate condemnation from Jewish student groups, communal leaders and university officials.

“I think it is an embarrassment to society,” said Rabbi Nechemia Deitsch, director of Chabad of Midtown in Toronto, which services the university population. “The fact that there is this hatred in the air is due completely to a lack of education.”

He told JNS that students are concerned, but that they are “very determined to stay strong and in all the moral values that Judaism stands for. They will continue to be a light upon the nations and on their communities.”

“Let’s be absolutely clear what the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union is demanding: Jewish students—and only Jewish students—must prove that they embrace particular political viewpoints to be ‘included’ and treated ‘equitably’ on campus,” said Douglas Sandoval, managing editor of CAMERA on Campus, which provides assistance to college and university students who are battling anti-Israel hatred on campus.

“The union is even targeting how Jews get their kosher food. The moral perversity here is simply jaw-dropping.”

While the SCSU’s resolution states that it opposes “any form(s) of anti-Semitic remarks or rhetoric that seek to abuse the BDS movement as a method of discrimination against Jewish students,” Sandoval said their very actions prove otherwise.

“[T]he one good thing about it is that the union has plainly shown, for everyone to see, that BDS is antisemitic—just the latest expression of mankind’s oldest bigotry,” he said. “Under what circumstances is it acceptable for an ethnoreligious minority to be treated with such contempt on a North American university campus? I’m embarrassed for the school.”

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‘Antisemitism is not taken as seriously as racism’

In a post on Facebook, Hillel officials said a group of “courageous” Jewish students has been trying to “steer the union in a more principled direction. We are deeply disappointed by the union’s position and call on the executive to take immediate steps to reverse this shameful resolution.”

University of Toronto officials say that in passing this resolution, those involved have “not represented the best interests of all students at Scarborough and has set a dangerous precedent for future” decisions by the student union, according to a statement issued by Kelly Hannah-Moffat, vice president of people strategy, equity and culture, and Wisdom Tettey, vice president and principal of the University of Toronto Scarborough. Noting that everyone is entitled to their “own views on all issues,” the school believes “no member of our community—and no supplier to the university—should be compelled to share a particular viewpoint or perspective on action of any nation-state.”

University president Meric Gertler said that requiring kosher-food purveyors about their views on issues elsewhere in the world is “unacceptable.”

He went on to say that “it is not acceptable to impose political tests on the recognition of Jewish student groups on any of the University of Toronto campuses. It is unacceptable to impose political tests on suppliers of kosher or any other type of food. The university will be following up with the SCSU to address our concerns.”

The Executive Board of University of Toronto’s Scarborough Campus Student Union pushed through motions “specifically focused on Israel in a way that is troubling to many members of the community”, according to University president Meric Gertler. (Image: stopantisemitism.org)

Students and faculty have complained that the school has not done enough to combat antisemitism and anti-Zionism on campus. Back in March, B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn chaired an hour-long town hall with students and faculty to discuss the situation. The meeting was covered by the Toronto Sun and included numerous students expressing their concerns.

According to the newspaper, one student said a classmate asked her where her horns were, while Howard Tenenbaum, a professor with the faculty of dentistry, summed up the atmosphere on campus this way: “Antisemitism is not taken as seriously as racism.”

B’nai Brith Canada also noted that because the SCSU controls clubs funding, room booking and many other aspects of student life at the Scarborough Campus, which has a smaller Jewish student body than the St. George campus, the motion effectively threatens to shut down Jewish life there.

A working group on antisemitism was convened by the university in December 2020; its report, along with the administration’s response, is expected to be released in early December.

According to Michael Levitt, president and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, “the odious motion put forward by the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union is a brazen escalation of the long-standing problem of discrimination being faced by Jewish students and faculty members.”

His organization is set to meet with school officials in the coming days to address concerns of antisemitism and will urge them to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism.

Faygie Holt is an award-winning journalist and bestselling children’s book author. Her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world and has been translated into several languages.

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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.

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