Professor Arthur Ripstein
Professor of Law and Philosophy, U of T
December 9, 2020
Dear Professor Ripstein,
On behalf of the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation, we are delighted to learn of your new role chairing a working group to examine antisemitism in policy and practice at the University of Toronto, and bring forth recommendations. Our charitable organization has been aware of episodes and of established groups and practices that exemplify antisemitism over many years. We have urged Dr. Meric Gertler to take proactive steps to address it in the past and we are pleased to see this is occurring now, especially in an era if increased global antisemitism and many studies that point to universities and colleges as epicenters of this hatred, and its impact on Jewish students.
We ask that you share the terms of reference for your working group and that you consider input from non-university based organizations as well. We are aware of both faculty and former faculty with information to share, as well as students and former students who may wish to submit input. Please also advise of guidelines or processes that we may convey to others who wish to have their voices heard by your working group.
At this early stage, please advise if we might share documents from other universities and jurisdictions that have dealt with this matter or reference material that you and your working group members might consider. Much of it is US based, some from the UK and other countries, but all is relevant to university life. Of utmost importance is are studies and reports from the US based AMCHA Initiative, which particularly show the incidence of antisemitic attacks on Jewish students increases where faculty are expressly antiZionist and teach a biased view of Israel. We also note that the existence of BDS committees and actions, as with that of the GSU, heightens tensions, conveying not just bias but ahistorical matters to students, ignoring the rights of Jews to a country that his Jewish in character, while ignoring that fact there are 57 Muslim countries and over 100 Christian countries. Only U of T has a BDS Committee and we urge you examine the actual purpose of intent of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement as described by its founder, Omar Barghouti, who speaks candidly about its purpose being the total destruction of the Jewish state, or a unitary state, with an Arab Muslim majority.
Lastly, we ask that you look into the funding of antiZionist and antisemitic events, lectures, groups, student clubs and faculty appointments with regard to both domestic and foreign sources; funding from foreign entities may or may not have been declared. A most significant study by the Institute for Studies in Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP), documents the link between foreign funds from countries like Qatar, Iran, Saudi Arabia and even from the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and increases in antisemitism through biased antisemitic courses, departmental studies, faculty appointments and student organizations. Lastly, some historical digging is recommended as, for example, the Muslim Student Association, which has chapters across North America, has a history of being backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, a body characterized as terrorist even among Arab countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
CAEF is available to speak with members of the Working Group and welcomes this significant step by the University of Toronto administration to investigate and address antisemitism.
Andria Spindel Executive Director
Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation
P.O. Box 42044 John Woodbine PO
Markham, ON L3R 0P9