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CAEF Letter to social work community to take a strong stand against antisemitism

This letter is being sent to Canadian Social Work deans, professional associations and licensing boards across Canada.

On behalf of the groups signed below, we decry the antisemitism that underlies the pro-Hamas demonstrations that have been taking place since the horrific terror attacks of October 7 against Israeli children, women and men. These innocent civilians were neither engaged in war nor in political action when they were killed, raped and kidnapped. They were neither “settlers” nor “occupiers.”

In our cities and campuses, misrepresentations and hatred-inspiring falsehoods are allowed to go unchallenged in a specious claim of free speech and “debate.” This is frighteningly like the build up to power of Hitler in Nazi Germany, where Jews were demeaned and “othered” with tacit approval of those who made excuses for the attacks.

The lie that anti-Israel sentiment has nothing to do with antisemitism is laid bare when one sees how demonstrations for Palestinians quickly devolve into chants of “kill the Jews,” not just in the Arab world but in front of the Sydney Opera House, outside Manhattan high rises, and on Ivy League campuses. Jewish students are threatened, mocked and excluded. At Berkeley, student groups were allowed to decide that all pro-Israel students could be excluded from debate; at Stanford, Jewish students in a required course were made to go stand in a corner to “see how Palestinians felt.” At a recent national conference in Ottawa focused on the fight against antisemitism, a large pro-Palestinian crowd blocked access, preventing delegates from leaving and intimidating them, requiring dozens of police to clear a path and restrain the mob. The examples go on and on. Even when a rocket is fired into a hospital parking lot in Gaza, killing 100’s, the world and media are quick to blame Israel, disregarding intelligence reports that the rockets were fired from a Jihad group in Gaza.

The terrorist attacks and atrocities perpetrated by Hamas on October 7th and the ensuing violence and kidnappings of innocent people demand social work’s attention. As a profession that is focused on social justice, social work must take a stand against these actions. As a profession skilled in working with trauma and its effects, we are aware of how this can affect individuals and communities and recognize the important need of supporting Israeli social workers as well as others in the community.

Hate cannot be eliminated, but we expect moral clarity from our leaders, educators and professional associations in understanding that “expressing both sides” is ethically bankrupt when the other side wants Jews dead, and wants the state of Israel, the only Jewish homeland, to disappear. By failing to acknowledge that the Jewish people can claim the “indigenous” label, those who should know better but are afraid to speak up for us, become complicit. Chanting “Zionism is racism” mislabels and abnegates core tenets of Judaism.

As Jewish people, we believe in the sanctity of life and community. We condemn Hamas for the agony that it has caused to both Israelis and Palestinians. We are eager to provide support to people here and in the Middle East who may need it. The upsurge in anti-Israel sentiments has led to increased antisemitic attacks in the United States and across the globe. We ask that the social work community take a strong stand against antisemitism which is reflected in the hatred against Israel and Jewish people. Ignoring it and its impact denigrates the profession while permitting this vociferous hatred to spread.

Yours truly,

Jewish Social Workers Interest Group

Hineni: Jews in Social Work

DARA – Doctors Against Racism and Antisemitism

Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity (Toronto Chapter)

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