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Disappointing and Delusional, a Response to York Region District School Board

Dear Trustees,

Last evening you truly disgraced yourselves, demonstrating a total lack of concern for Jewish students and Jewish life in York Region. Sadly, only David Sherman, Allan Tam and Ron Lynn seemed to grasp the seriousness of the situation in your schools and the board in regards to antisemitism.

Antisemitism is NOT like other forms of hatred, and has never been simply a dislike for people of the Jewish faith. Jews have an ethnic, national, religious and cultural identity and people of other faiths, creeds and communities have been trying to eliminate all Jews for centuries. The Holocaust was the greatest evil perpetrated against any people in human history, but it was not the beginning nor the end of Jew hatred. Pogroms and massacres took place across the continent of Europe and the Middle East and North Africa for centuries.

Today in all of North America, Jews are the most targeted community for hate crimes and there have been physical attacks and murders. Are we to wait for this to happen in Canada before YRDSB decides there is need for a definition and an action plan? Are we going to see that the oppression olympics of which Mr. Roach spoke so well, are to be played before you take action to End Jew Hatred? Do you really need more data in order to understand that antisemitism morphs in every generation and now it is masquerading as antiZionism, the hatred of Israel?

Ignoring its signs, venting against the recommended and respected definition of antisemitism, finding flaws with the very tool that might counter today's antisemitism. pretending that 4 years is insufficient time to "understand the problem and examine all definitions" is truly pathetic, and it is tragic that elected leaders in a democracy would postpone INDEFINITELY, addressing this most serious problem. Do you think antisemitism will go away because a) you can't define it, and b) you postponed dealing with it? Do you really believe that those whom the Jewish community does not recognize as spokespeople nor even contributors to the general welfare of Jewish life, are to decide on the definition of Jew hatred? By their very statements condemning IHRA, Independent Jewish Voices demonstrate the desire to keep their right to express their hatred of Israel.

This isn't a numbers game. You may of course get more letters and emails against adopting IHRA because the Jewish community is very small, because it is mostly passive and accepting and not demonstrating at your door, and because Jews trust you to do the right thing and stand up against oppressors and bullies. You do that for other minorities, but why not for Jews?

We heard you say this is too complex and complicated, suggesting you are not capable of addressing this serious problem, but that is your job! History has shown us how fast antisemitism morphs, spreads, infests and kills. You must deal with this NOW, not when it is so out of hand that you cannot stop it.

David Sherman pointed out that the majority of Jews and Western countries have supported IHRA, that it is not a legal instrument, does not compromise freedom of speech, does not threaten any political party or platform, except those who wish to eradicate Israel and those who love to hate Jews and wish to deny us the tools to confront it by name and thwart it outright. You disappoint immensely.

The region of York has a higher proportion of Jews than most of Canada: overall Jews are less than 1% of the Canadian population, yet you stand by, with some delusional notion that there is a better definition than that researched for years by scholars and supported by Canada, US, UK, Germany and others. You think you can draft something better? On what basis would you be so pretentious as to suggest a local panel study this and develop a definition? That is sheer arrogance, and idiocy. The Jewish community and the Governments of Canada and Ontario recognize IHRA IS the definition.

Do you have panels debating antiAsian hate, antiBlack racism, anti Indigenous hatred or do you know what it is and act on it now? Do you really think you can generalize hate from one group to the hatred expressed to another group and just encourage kids to treat each other kindly? Do you recognize that a great deal of Jew hatred comes from other minority groups? Will you call out the Pro-Palestinian hatred for all Israelis that manifests itself with calls for genocide outside our public schools where students are lauded for their activism? Will you call out Black antisemitism which is embedded in the charter of Black Lives Matter? Will you recognize the hatred for Jews who express their love of Israel and are therefore excluded from school and university clubs, progressive circles, and business opportunities?

Israel is Canada's ally and supporting her is not a cause for Jew hatred, and lying about Israel, demonizing the country and its people, is just the newest expression of Jew hatred. Israel is the new Jew. This is not a complicated situation. This is a fact. Duck it and stay delusional or deal with it and be the first Ontario School board to tackle both the tangible and intangible expressions of antisemitism.

Do the right thing. End Jew hatred.

Andria Spindel, Executive Director

cc. All Members of Parliament


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