FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation is delighted that the Ottawa Carleton District School Board voted unanimously to appoint a full-time Jewish Equity Coach for the Board and to allocate an approximate $100,000 budget for the work of that new appointment. This is a significant step forward by the Board to confront a serious and long-standing issue of pervasive antisemitism in the Ottawa public school system.
In particular, we would like to congratulate Lisa Levitan, who has tirelessly advocated for this initiative for many years, and whose passion and drive was key to last night's success. Lisa led the campaign by initiating the Rise Up Ottawa Conference in November 2022 which launched the End Jew Hatred movement in Ottawa.
We thank the parents and students who refused to be silent in the face of this hate, and came together to ensure fully inclusive and safe learning environments at schools in Ottawa.
We also congratulateTrustee Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth for her leadership in bringing forth and defending this motion at the Board, and to our sister Jewish advocacy organizations – Ottawa Against Antisemitism, the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, the Center for Holocaust Education and Scholarship, End Jew Hatred, the Lawfare Project, and the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs. This was a true team effort.
Now, for the next steps:
The recruitment committee must include representatives of the mainstream Jewish community, not fringe elements which might actually oppose the work of this new position.
Since the OCDSB, like all school boards in Ontario, is expected to act on the IHRA definition of antisemitism as adopted by both senior levels of government, the new hire must be someone who understands and upholds the full embodiment of IHRA and will use it as a guide for identifying and combating antisemitism. To do less will negate the significance of this appointment.
The new hire must implement an action plan with specific timelines and a budget should be developed before the end of this academic year.
Members of the community should be kept informed of all steps taken, all incidents reported, all training, discipline and policies that follow from the board’s commitment to combat and eradicate antisemitism.
A priority of the new position, in collaboration with the Equity and the Human Rights Departments of OCDSB, should be an audit of reported instances of antisemitism, including those found in texts and library books, articles and videos, websites and teaching materials that stereotype Jews, cast aspersions on Judaism, or deny Jewish indigeneity to Israel or misrepresent Jewish history, including the Holocaust.
Accountability should include public reporting of the work of the new position and that of the OCDSB in total, in addressing antisemtism; metrics are required.
Again, we congratulate the OCDSB, Lisa, Nili, the Jewish families of Ottawa, and our partners on this remarkable achievement.
The Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation is a registered Canadian charitable organization that monitors and confronts antisemitism and antiZionism, fosters inclusion, building relations with allied communities, supports freedom of religion, freedom of expression and the rule of law.
Contact: Andria Spindel, Executive Director, Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org 416-409-3822