Letter from Educators Against Antisemitism to TDSB


November 18, 2021

Dear Ms. Russell-Rawlins and Mr. Alexander Brown,

We are writing to you on behalf of thousands of educators and community members who are livid, terrified, and incredibly concerned about recent events within the TDSB, where Israeli Canadians, Jews, and those who support Israel have once again been demonized, targeted, and victimized.

Educators Against Antisemitism (EAA) is an active and inclusive group representing thousands of school staff in Ontario, many of whom are in the TDSB. Parents Against Antisemitism (PAA) is another active and inclusive group representing thousands of parents, mostly of students within the TDSB. In the spring of 2021, we wrote to the TDSB and following that, presented data to TDSB Trustees and other Senior Staff concerning how TDSB Jewish staff consistently feel unsafe in their workplace solely for the reason that they are Jewish. Over the past 6 months, the negative physical, emotional, and mental effects that the TDSB has placed on Jewish staff is unprecedented and it seems to be getting worse. We are not heard, seen, nor validated. It has been an utterly devastating experience --- one which we never dreamed we would have to experience in 2021. Having reasonable grounds for TDSB staff to hide their identity is unacceptable and goes against our Human Rights. We will fight for our right to be treated the same as our colleagues. We refuse to consider the possibility that Jews don’t belong in public education.

There appears to be a recent pattern to ignore antisemitism within the school board, or, at the very least, to stand idly by thus allowing its existence.

Last Spring, a TDSB staff person sent out emails to thousands of other staff that were hateful towards the state of Israel and its supporters. Jews felt threatened by that action and even more so when these emails provided links to information from an organization defined by Public Safety Canada as a terrorist group. The staff member who sent out that email still works for the TDSB and that seems to have emboldened others, with similar beliefs, to perpetuate his words and actions, in smaller ways, throughout the system. Combine this with the withdrawal of valuable educational resources about antisemitism from TDSB sites, Jewish educators, Israeli educators, and the entire Jewish community of our city feel unprotected, exposed, vulnerable.

In September and October, two different staff members were invited to speak to Principals and other leaders at the TDSB, both making disparaging, hateful, and untrue slanderous statements against Jews and Israel. Neither were disciplined for their actions. Throughout the Fall of 2021 there hase been vandalism on many school properties featuring anti-semitic comments and/or symbols, distributed on social media forums and heard in public spaces. Last week, there was a school-wide walk-out, led by a TDSB educator, where students and staff were encouraged to

promote segregation and hate. Which grade 8 students want to apply to THAT high school in January? No Jewish students want to go there….and likely any Jews there will transfer out.

This is outrageous.

This isn’t only about students using unacceptable language --- there are staff people doing the same thing. And by not publicly explaining the scope of what is happening, nor what the Board is doing about it, it appears that the TDSB is not taking a stance against anti-semitism. It appears that the TDSB is in direct opposition to the directives of the Ministry of Education in its focu on anti-hate education.

The TDSB must publicly call out what is happening within the city, and be transparent about the follow up. There have been too many incidents that when combined, point to a disturbing and dangerous trend within Canada’s largest school board.


The TDSB must move ahead immediately with the secondment of a staff member from CIJA (Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs) that they committed to doing a few months ago.

We are NOT looking for placating letters from your office.

We are looking for actions.

Educators Against Antisemitism

Parents Against Antisemitism

Ottawa Supports Jewish Children

Jewish Educators Affinity Group

Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights

End Jew Hatred Canada

Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation (CAEF)

Cc.

Christopher Mammoliti

Vice-Chair, TDSB

christopher.mammoliti@tdsb.on.ca

Andrew Gold

Associate Director Leadership, Learning and School Improvement (Interim), TDSB

andrew.gold@tdsb.on.ca

Linda Curtis

Associate Director Equity, Well-Being and School Improvement (Acting), TDSB

linda.curtis@tdsb.on.ca

Craig Snider

Associate Director Business Operations and Service Excellence (Interim), TDSB

craig.snider@tdsb.on.ca

Ross Parry

Executive Officer, Government, Public and Community Relations, TDSB

ross.parry@tdsb.on.ca

Denise Joseph-Dowers

Senior Manager, Governance and Board Services, TDSB

denise.joseph-dowers@tdsb.on.ca

Jim Spyropoulos

Executive Superintendent, Human Rights and Indigenous Education, TDSB

jim.spyropoulos@tdsb.on.ca

Peter Chang

System Superintendent, Continuing Education / Partnership / Heritage Months / International Languages & African Heritage (Interim), TDSB

peter.chang@tdsb.on.ca

Jacqueline Spence

System Superintendent, Equity, Anti-Oppression and Early Years

jacqueline.spence@tdsb.on.ca

Shelley Laskin, Trustee

Shelley.Laskin@tdsb.on.ca

Alexandra Lulka, Trustee

Alexandra.Lulka@tdsb.on.ca

Harpreet Gill, Trustee

harpreet.gill@tdsb.on.ca

Dan MacLean, Trustee

dan.maclean@tdsb.on.ca

Patrick Nunziata, Trustee

patrick.nonziata@tdsb.on.ca

Chris Tonks, Trustee

chris.tonks@tdsb.on.ca

Robin Pilkey, Trustee

robin.pilkey@tdsb.on.ca

Stephanie Donaldson, Trustee

stephanie.donaldson@tdsb.on.ca

Chris Moise, Trustee

chris.moise@tdsb.on.ca

Rachel Chernos Lin

rachel.chernoslin@tdsb.on.ca

James Li, Trustee

james.li@tdsb.on.ca

Trixie Doyle, Trustee

trixie.doyle@tdsb.on.ca

Jennifer Story, Trustee

jennifer.tory@tdsb.on.ca

Michelle Aarts, Trustee

michelle.aarts@tdsb.on.ca

David Smith, Trustee

david.smith@tdsb.on.ca

Parthi Kandavel, Trustee

parthi.kandavel@tdsb.on.ca

Zakir Patel, Trustee

zakir.patel@tdsb.on.ca

Manna Wong, Trustee

manna.wong@tdsb.on.ca

Yalini Rajakulasingam, Trustee

yalini.rajakulsingam@tdsb.on.ca

Anu Sriskandarajah, Trustee

anu.sriskandarajah@tdsb.on.ca

Isaiah Shafqat, Indigenous Student Trustee

isaiah.shafqat@tdsb.on.ca

Evan Woo, Student Trustee

evan.woo@tdsb.on.ca

Jyoti Dadhich, Student Trustee

jyoti.dadhich@tdsb.on.ca

Stephen Lecce

Minister of Education

stephen.lecce@pc.ola.org

Nancy Naylor

Deputy Minister of Education

Nancy.Naylor@ontario.ca

Sylvia Jones, MPP

Solicitor General of Ontario

sylvia.jones@pc.ola.org

Sam Oosterhoff

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education

sam.oosterhoff@pc.ola.org

Gila Martow

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Francophone Affairs

gila.martow@pc.ola.org

Yael Ginsler, Director

Curriculum Assessment and Student Success Policy Branch

Ministry of Education

yaelginsler@ontario.ca

Mishaal Surti, Manager

Curriculum, Assessment and Student Success Policy Branch

Ministry of Education

asspb@ontario.ca

Karen Brown

President

Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario

kbrown@etfo.org

Harvey Bischoff

President

Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation

harvey.bischoff@osstf.ca

Michael Levitt

President and CEO

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center

mlevitt@fswc.ca

Melissa Mikel

Director of Education

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center

mmikel@fswc.ca


Jaime Kirzner-Roberts

Director of Policy

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center

jaime@fswc.ca

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