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CAEF Letter to Prof. Arthur Ripstein re Combating antisemitism at U of T

Professor Arthur Ripstein 

Professor of Law and Philosophy 

University of Toronto 

December 5, 2023

Dear Professor Ripstein,

It is three years since I communicated directly with you in regards to the interest of Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation in the establishment of the Working Group on Antisemitism, and in providing input. We submitted via the online system and we responded to the final report, which we found disappointing.

Given the ongoing and growing, dissatisfying and frightening examples of antisemtism at the University of Toronto, especially on Scarborough and Mississauga Campuses, but also in downtown Toronto, it would be very helpful for the Jewish community to have you speak up now and distance yourself from the Working Group and its report. We are not seeing serious action on the part of the administration in combating antisemitism. It is great that kosher food can be provided by Zionist companies, but it is not great that major faculty groups are publishing fatuous statements, that social work education ignores antisemitism, that the medical faculty tried to stop Hon. Irwin Cotler from speaking and later the advisor on antisemitism herself experienced antisemitism in the medical faculty.

Expressed Jew hatred, which has been reported to me from two campuses, has been so intimidating that at least one faculty member has advised he does not feel safe to walk to his classes; and a PhD candidate advised she cannot attend classes in person. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Social media posts seem to ignore the violence and savagery experienced by Israelis and foreign nationals while extraordinary attention has been given to those in Gaza who have lost their lives, but no context or verifiable facts are presented. For example, a great many Hamas and PIJ rockets have fallen in Gaza killing their own people. Hamas controls all reports of the Health Ministry and never reports any deaths of combatants, claiming all are civilians, and among the so-called civilians are those who support Hamas, such as the UNRWA staff who have housed Israeli hostages.

Free speech is an important value but there is a line, very often crossed in calling for “free Palestine, from the river to the sea,” for genocide of Israelis. Support for Hamas is support for the mass murder of Jews as it is clearly documented in the Hamas charter.

Professor Ripstein, now would be a good time for you to speak up, acknowledge that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism is the only realistic, applicable definition in dealing with Jew hatred. It is nigh time that U of T adopted it and implemented an educational plan to help all students, faculty and administration to understand and apply it. Ignoring what antisemitism is, pretending it can’t be defined or that it is controversial so everyone can have their own definition is not only unproductive, but ludicrous, as no other issue is studied without a clear definition of what is being studied. That the level of anti-Zionism, that blaming Israel for all evil, is the bases of such hate and that it is not justified given Israel is the only democratic country in the Middle East, that it follows and exceeds international law of war, that all citizens have equal rights and 21% of its population is Muslim and Arabic is a recognized second language etc etc. must be taught, must be pronounced by you and every other decent academic, Jewish and non-Jewish. Fight the lies with truths.

We are eager to hear from you. We are hopeful you are at the front line in combating antisemitism. We see action as urgent and extend our support to you and others whom you bring forward to align with the principles of truth and justice, and urge you to stand strong for Israel and the Jewish people.


Andria Spindel

Executive Director

Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation


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