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Canada are You Listening? And CAEF Invitation to Special Program and an Update on Event at York U

CAEF Bulletin - December 5, 2019


Canada are You Listening?

Please sign our petition before the next vote at the United Nations. Canada can correct its vote, and return to its decade’s long support for Israel, having voted against Israel in a motion that was described in the Globe and Mail on November 22, 2019 as follows: the resolution urged “an end to Israeli occupation”, and “the preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

There is no occupied territory and Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people.

Israel condemned Canada for voting for this UN resolution that calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state. A significant contingent of the Jewish community in Canada, along with Israel’s Ambassador, Nimrod Barkan, and others expressed grievous concern that Ottawa is helping to delegitimize the Jewish state.

If you have already signed we thank you. Sign and share this petition now, and we will ensure that all names are forwarded to the Prime Minister and Cabinet before the next vote in the General Assembly this month.

Hear how Israel and India are Plagued with Islamist Threats

Response from York University to Our Community Regarding Antisemitism on Campus

By now, you will have heard about a hostile incident that took place on November 20th at York U while a small group of IDF reservists were speaking at a program organized by the Jewish campus organization, Herut Canada. Many organizations wrote to President Rhonda Lenton to express concern, dismay, and total objection to the bigoted campaign that ran in advance of the program to rally anti-Israel supporters, create a false narrative as to the purpose of the program, and to suggest the presence of Israelis on campus was inappropriate. A protest of the event was organized by Students Against Israeli Apartheid(SAIA) which for years has sowed dissention on campus with the backing of the disreputable York Student Federation which within days of the issued a press release reversing the story, making it seem that the Jews were disruptive and hostile.

CAEF had sent a press release to major print and television media in advance, inviting them to send news reporters to see what antisemitism looks like up close as it was clearly known this would be manifest at the event. The posters and Facebook ads from SAIA were bitterly hostile and antisemitic. Here are examples.

Following the event, CAEF’s Executive Director wrote to Dr. Lenton and the Chair of Board of Governors calling for action, not just concern. We made several points.

  • It is time to take down the hostile anti-Israel mural in the student center that has been the source of contention for several years now and has overstayed its original time on the wall.

  • The university must adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism and put action plans in place to implement it.

  • The university must ensure a safe student environment and security for all students.

  • The university must express moral clarity and state that antizionism is unacceptable discrimination.

Dr. Lenton

There is nothing that SAIA says that is true. The Adults on campus need to teach the students not succumb to them. Greater security yes, but less antisemitism, less bigotry, less tolerating the intolerable.  York U is supposed to be a place of learning, so what has it learned from the excesses of previous generations that boycotted Jews, spread lies and defamed people, and what is it teaching the current generation?

We share the response received from Dr. Lenton and ask you to decide if this matter is being handled effectively, efficiently and fairly. There is no place for silence.


Good afternoon,

Thank you for writing to me regarding the event that occurred on November 20th at Vari Hall on the York University Keele campus. I apologize for the delay in my response.

I take your concerns about the protest and antisemitism very seriously. Our first priority is the safety of our community members. Violence, harassment and intimidation are not tolerated on our campuses.

Consequently, while York understands the important role universities play in defending freedom of speech, our Statement of Policy on Free Speech also recognizes that free speech is not absolute or without limits.

I recognize that the events of November 20th were and remain of great concern not only to the University but also to the larger community around us. I want you to know that York University engaged in significant advanced planning to ensure that the event would proceed safely. Our security services, together with our partners at the Toronto Police Service, were able to ensure that the planned event continued as planned, consistent with our responsibilities under our Statement of Policy on Free Speech. However, tensions outside the event escalated resulting in both verbal and physical confrontations taking place. The professionally trained security personnel and TPS offices ensured tense situations were de-escalated quickly. Most of the de-escalation efforts by police and security involved external individuals.

I consequentially tasked the Offices of Vice-President Equity, People and Culture and Vice-Provost Students to undertake a comprehensive review of the event. Action items include:

  • An assessment regarding whether any individual or group violated York’s policies and/or codes of conduct warranting disciplinary action.

  • A review of our Temporary Use of University Space policy to ensure alignment with best practices.

  • A review of our postering guidelines for alignment with best practices and York University policies.

  • Any potential recommendations on how we handle external individuals or groups who come to campus with the intent of instigating conflict and mischief.

  • Recommendations on education initiatives to facilitate a respectful climate on campus for the discussion of difficult topics.

  • Assisting Toronto Police Service in their investigation.

  • Developing a website to keep the community informed of our progress.

I will also be shortly appointing an external investigator to review all facets of the event including incidents both prior to, and following, November 20th. The results of the internal review and external investigation as well as the recommendations will be forwarded to the President and made available to the community as appropriate. Given the work to be undertaken, we anticipate a report early in the New Year.

Individuals who believe York’s policies were violated may also file a complaint under the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities (CSRR).

Thank you again for contacting me and sharing your concerns. This is a difficult moment for our community, but we are committed to taking concrete steps to ensuring the continued safety of all members of our community and a campus environment that encourages open, respectful and free expression.

Sincerely, Rhonda L. Lenton President & Vice Chancellor


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