CAEF analyzes U of Toronto Antisemitism Report and Responds to Governing Council, Feb 11, 2022

February 11, 2022

Dear {name was inserted}


Please read CAEF’s response to the December 8, 2021 report by theUniversity of Toronto’s Working Group on Antisemitism. CAEF, a non-profit registered charity, has been raising awareness of growing antisemitism in Canada for almost 20 years and has often expressed concern about the many instances on display at this university, and the lack of concrete steps to eradicate it.


CAEF views the report and the response from the administration asinadequate. It does not go to the core of the Jew hatred problem at U of T nor offer definitive solutions. Antisemitism has been normalized in society, not less so at the university where it has been tolerated, perpetuated and even promoted by actions or inactions that allow this ancient hatred to fester. Research across the globe has identified the most frequent and blatant contributor to Jew hatred as Islamism in concert with leftist lies and bigotry against Israel and the Jewish people. Right wing antisemitism is of course dangerous, but much less prolific than the other sources which are demonstrably a problem on university campuses across North America and Europe.

We urge strong action including adoption and implementation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemtism with consequences for the continued abuse of Jewish civil rights on campus. Jewish students and faculty have the right to expect more than mere “tolerance.” They expect and demand an end to Jew hatred! When leading actors in the anti-Zionist movement, which denies Jewish rights, are academic figures, it is here that the next generation unlearns tolerance and learns Jew hatred.

Respectively,


Andria Spindel Executive Director

Anita Bromberg President Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation

 

The Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation’s Response to the University of Toronto’s Report from the Working Group on Antisemitism


Judea Pearl, whose son Daniel, was murdered in 2002 in Pakistan by Islamist extremists, has never quit campaigning for human rights and dignity for all in his role as activist in the fight against antisemitism and anti-Zionism. In reviewing recent antisemitic incidents at his own university, USC, he said the following which could equally apply to the University of Toronto:


“University administrators unwilling to publicly name a problem are not in a position to solve it".


Corollary 1: Working with Jewish organizations behind the scene, forming "task forces" or "working groups" and erecting "anti-hate" cathedrals are but cover-ups for inaction.


Corollary-2: EDI (Equity Diversity and Inclusion) offices lacking Jewish-Zionist representation operate contrary to the principle of "Diversity & Inclusion" and are totally useless until reformed.”


The U of T Working Group on Antisemitism’s report begins by stating it is not responding to any specific antisemitic incidents, a first flaw. Upon examining specific antisemitic incidents, one will begin to ask serious questions such as ‘where does this hatred come from? From whom and why? And then how might it be addressed? Antisemitism doesn’t just exist in the abstract. This hatred is associated with abstract often conspiratorial ideas, not facts about Jews, Judaism, the Jewish people or the State of Israel. The hatred is generally applied to the Jewish people as a collective; it has existed for millennia and shape shifts with time and place.


The University and its “working group” should also be up to date on how to correctly spell the word “antisemitism”. An academic institution which places great importance on the use of “correct” verbiage in regards to all other minority groups and self-identifying groups, ought to at the very least understand the difference in meaning of the word with and without a hyphen, and the current convention which has eliminated the hyphen from the German inspired word used to speak ill of Jews. The word is poorly understood, especially by those who prefer to deny its existence, especially when it is their own attitude and/or behavior that is antisemitic. ( https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/antisemitism/spelling-antisemitism)


After almost two dozen years of documented examples of antisemitism, the university finally decided to give this hatred serious attention, and the President appointed a Working Group to examine it and recommend actions towards countering it. The report comes after a documented report on antisemitism on campus was produced and presented to the President months earlier, and after a public Town Hall was held under the auspices of B’nai Brith Canada, with co- sponsorship by CAEF and other NGOs.


No Community organizations were appointed to the Working Group (WG), nor academic faculty who had complained of and documented the incidents of Jew hatred, nor students or their organizations that have been dealing with this racist behavior. And, as the first step in studying anything is to define it, CAEF finds it shocking and unacceptable that the Report does not start with the common, globally-accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, nor does it conclude with a recommendation to adopt the IHRA definition, instead opting to argue that any definition will be limiting free speech and be open to challenge. Truly, it seems to be avoiding the tackling of the problem since all standard references to IHRA note that it does not limit genuine criticism of the State of Israel, which objectors like to argue is the case.


The only people objecting to IHRA are those organizations and individuals who wish to continue their antisemitic harangues and threats against Jews and the Jewish state. The university ought to give one other example of a social phenomenon or problem being studied that is never defined, clearly articulated and described in some commonly understood way. What is it and what is it not? Fearing that the Israel haters who hide their antisemitism by claiming merely to be Anti-Zionists, not antisemites, will object, the University allowed the WG to cop out. All the university had to do was declare the legitimacy of the Jewish state, recognized by the entire world but for terrorists running Gaza and the disputed Territories in Israel. Instead, the university now has the distinction of seemingly standing with the terrorists and other Israel deniers and demonizers by avoiding the imperative to define the attitudes and behaviors that characterize the hatred.


The lack of a declared definition also precludes some individuals who experience certain examples of such hatred from getting their claims dealt with, their experience validated and the abuser(s) punished. To be told an example of Jew hatred is not part of the university’s policy against antisemitism because it does not fall under their undefined description, will potentially allow for the action to continue and the victim to be threatened, intimidated, excluded or harassed. We know from President Gertler’s statements, that physical attacks will not be tolerated and Jews are not to be excluded from activities, but we now know that other antisemitic activities may continue unabated, under the guise of anti-Zionism.


Of course, the application of policies that prohibit exclusion and intimidation are to be equally applied to Jews as to others, but again, it is not in the context of what is defined as antisemitism ie a hate act, a hate crime. So, claiming falsely that Israel is an apartheid state, an occupier, and Israelis are guilty of ethnic cleansing and colonization will be allowed to continue because IHRA will not be applied. All of these lies which generate hate, reinforce hatred, encourage invalid distinctions between a democratic country operating under the rule of law, as opposed to its Islamist neighbors, will be allowed. Free speech but not truth in words will prevail. There is no justice for Jews if these lies are deemed “ok” for discussions of a “complex” and “contentious situation.” How might the University of Toronto have dealt with Nazism in the 30s, and how does it deal with other racist language today? U of T demands respect for trans-people and the use of certain words, it never allows for denial of their personal pronoun preference but it’s ok to deny Israelis their truth and allow for their rights to be infringed upon by way of spreading lies about the legitimacy of their nation and ethnic identity.


Free speech is the Holy Grail, according to this report, the sine qua non of academic investigation and presentation. This sounds great, but the report then allows one to believe there is no such thing as hate speech, no limits, no qualifications as to what is religious, political, cultural or scientific discussion or disputation. That cannot be so, even in an open society and a democracy. We would not tolerate anyone teaching that Nazism is an acceptable world view, nor would we sanction ancient Hindu practices of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. By decrying these as immoral and inhuman, we are not condemning all Germans nor all Hindus but we are not tolerating the intolerable. So, why should Jews be expected to tolerate what is not tolerable?


Why are messages of hatred, and even genocide against Jews, such as calling for a “Free Palestine, from the river to the sea,” deemed as okay speech when this is a call for the genocide of Jews, the eradication of the only Jewish state? How is it that hatred is deemed “passive resistance” of a falsely claimed “occupation” by a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement? BDS is not passive, not resistance, but a movement founded by Omar Barghouti, calling for the elimination of the State of Israel. (https://www.israelhayom.com/2020/06/02/bds-co-founder-says-goal-of-movement-is-end-of-israel/)


The Nazis wanted to eliminate all Jews. The Islamists and their supporters, such as the BDS movement and the Israel Apartheid Week gang, also want to eliminate the Jews, this time by eliminating the Jewish state. BDS is a call to eradicate Israel entirely and replace it with another Muslim-dominated state; another tyrannical, undemocratic state in the Middle East in which Jews would be a subjugated minorty. To say this is only stating facts. This is a call for genocide. Is the University committed to the idea that lies should be tolerated as mere opinions, a “counter narrative,” by those who are targets of this hatred? If there is a desire to stop such hatred, the report never really states any limits and zero sanctions against perpetrators of Jew hatred as defined by the gold standard, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism.


How is it the university lists student groups it interviewed but does not seem to have included either Stand with Us or Hasbara Fellowships, both of which operate on campus and have years of experience and credibility?


Since there are massive amounts of documentation by Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, by Israeli and non-Israeli academics that anti-Zionism, hatred of Israel, denial of Israel’s rights, and erasure or revisionism of its history and legitimacy is the most virulent form of antisemitism, this report was already out of date before its date of issue. The hatred that Jews experienced on the basis of religion and the artifact of race, are almost passé, and have been replaced for over 70 years by the major manifestation of Jew hatred, ie. anti-Israel bigotry. This report ignores this at the outset.


You can’t get more controversial than to wade into the debate about definitions of antisemitism, but suffice it to say that to ignore the facts related to the most prevalent and commonly adopted definition is to not only waffle about what will be defended, what will be seen as offensive, but also to ignore what truly matters. What matters is that the denigration and denial of Israel is at the heart of today’s antisemitism. See the report on how this debate fuels antisemitism: https://amchainitiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Antisemitism-Report-2019.pdf


The other fact which has been documented and is contrary to “perceived wisdom”, is that the higher the education of individual Americans (and presumably also Canadians), the higher the level of antisemitism and the reverse is true. The less educated folks have lower rates of antisemitism.


The survey report includes this statement: “Respondents with higher education levels are more likely than those with lower education levels to apply a double-standard unfavorable towards Jews.” Full report published just in 2021: https://scholarworks.uark.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1122&context=edrepub


This should not surprise us, for this was true in Nazi Germany too. Look at the judges, professors, doctors, who served the Nazi masters. They were well read, rational, well-trained in scientific methodology etc and managed to turn logic upside down and generate an ideology entirely based on lies, myths and hatred. How is that different from the Islamist-leftist bias that is prevalent at the major universities today? It is an ideology that negates facts, denies history, destroys legal and rational arguments with opinions, fallacious theories about our modern society, and an attempt to eliminate the different ideas it doesn’t find useful, in this case Zionism, the belief in Jewish self-determination in the ancient Jewish homeland.


Nazism turned normal people into terrible racists and the ideology that is being bandied around many departments at the University of Toronto, is no better. Consider this- if a minority of Black students don’t mind some racism, does the university intend to tolerate anti-Black racism? If a large number, but still a minority of women, don’t object to gender discrimination will the university modify its policies to allow some anti-female behaviours or only object when there is 100% consensus as to what is intolerable? Is it not typical antisemitic behavior, to do less for Jews than for other minorities? All Jews will not agree on a definition or the borders of the land of Israel, but the majority do accept IHRA as do 34 countries including Canada, and the majority also hold the view that Israel has the right to exist and any denial of that is prejudicial and unacceptable.


The university rightly acknowledges there is a fair degree of debate on the definition of antisemitism, but should consider that the objection comes primarily from those people who object to the very existence of the Jewish state of Israel. Does the University truly believe it is an intellectual exercise to debate the existence of a legitimate country, and the only Jewish one on all of the planet? Where is the debate on the legality of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, all created as modern states at the same time as Israel, yet none have more established history than that of the Jewish nation in Israel?


How does the Working Group justify ignoring the major source of antisemitism in the last decades and the increased threats to Jews as a result of this Israel hatred? How does the WG justify not documenting that the source of much Jew hatred globally emanates from this particular university having birthed the disgustingly antisemitic Israel hate-fest called Israel Apartheid Week in which the entire focus is on separating Israel and the Jewish people from the nations of the world and treating it differently, denigrating and demonizing it? How does this university ignore the fact that universities are intended to help students use norms and standards to get at truth and not deal merely in opinions when examining any and all social issues, history, and current affairs? That there are political biases and cultural differences is to be expected, but the fact that Israel’s existence is somehow a matter to be considered as an opinion, a bias or a cultural preference is absurd, and this Working Group has relegated it to that by not stepping up to clearly state that Israel’s existence is NOT a subject for debate and its rightful place among the nations of the world is not a matter of opinion, political or otherwise. Is this WG and the University Administration so cowardly, or so antisemitic, or so locked into wokeism that it can no longer recognize the truth?


While clearly and wisely the university should aim to not obstruct opinions or shield students from some ideas they don’t agree with, the university in fact does that every day. It stops anti-Black racism, anti-Asian racism, homophobia, transphobia and other hatreds, but isn’t prepared to shield Jewish students from hatred directed at the Jewish state on the illogical basis that somehow that isn’t really hatred. What is it then? If such hatred leads to physical attacks which it does, to calls for genocide which it does, to denigrating an entire people which it does, to making Jewish students hide their identity which it does, and allows professors to ridicule Jewish students, refuse them meritorious recommendations, which they have, then it is inconceivable that the University can ignore what is inherently antisemitic. It is time that the University of Toronto called out what it has refused to name.


The report contends there is a distinction “between troubling speech and disruption, (that) give effect to the University’s core commitments.” How is the dissemination of lies and hatred not disruptive as well as troubling and worse? It is discriminatory, bigoted, unworthy of a university staff member or student.


If the university dealt with truly challenging human rights, freedom of speech and freedom of research to demand all rights are respected, all speech is free and acceptable, then possibly Jewish rights might not have been infringed upon and the truth about Israel might not be regularly squelched. The fact that a permanent BDS committee exists with funding and support by the Graduate Student Union suggests that rights are limited, Jews not welcome and truth is immaterial at this institution. It is also imperative that the university take into consideration another important piece of research from the American university experience and evaluate its applicability to the Canadian situation.


Here is a quote that heads the article about the bias of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion staff and their influence on antisemitism: “U.S. campuses have become hotbeds of hostility toward the state of Israel as well as toward the idea of American exceptionalism, and in the radical religion of the campus, far-left professors are the priests and DEI officers are the choir.” Read the full article, and consider that the authors are well recognized experts in the field of antisemitism, and ask if this could also be true in Canada, at this university?


https://nationalinterest.org/feature/university-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-staff-show-anti-israel-bias-199953


U of T’s President Meric Gertler has said that Jewish students will not be treated differently and will be safe on campus, and the recommendations will all be implemented. What he did not say is that antisemitism is pervasive, in the classroom, student governments, clubs and campus activities, and includes rampant Anti-Zionism. The time for this is over, BDS is unacceptable, IAW must be cancelled and all who disagree should be mandated to take a program that will disavow them of their Jew hatred. The alternative is that they leave this university. Antisemites are not welcome!

Prepared by Andria Spindel, Executive Director Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation andria@caef.ca

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