Letter re antisemitism in the schools and necessity for stronger response
January 23, 2023
Mr. Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education
Government of Ontario
Dear Minister Lecce;
The Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation applauds your decision to require Holocaust education in the Ontario elementary school curriculum. We are pleased you presented your support for the Jewish community at the recent B’nai Brith Canada public consultation and grateful that in November, you sent regards to Rise Up Ottawa. We sincerely hope that you will attend the upcoming Stronger Together Fighting to End Jew Hatred Conference in April in Vaughn of which we are a presenting partner.
We write now to ask you actively address the rising tide of antisemitism by championing and implementing the most important tool—the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism.
We truly appreciate the leadership exemplified by the Ontario government in adopting IHRA. CAEF now asks for your championship of the IHRA to be a living legacy of your tenure in the Ministry. The adoption of IHRA is not sufficient, it must be implemented.
We ask Mr. Minister, that you exercise your leadership, as you did when you instructed all school Boards to observe and honour the passing of Queen Elizabeth on the day of her funeral, and not politicize or propagandize her death. You must do the same in regards to IHRA. It is the government’s position so it must become a requirement of all school boards. You are very aware of the level of antisemitism that some boards have experienced and you are aware that our community has been met with resistance and rejection at several boards. Your intervention is crucial.
The Jewish community needs your help. CAEF implores you to act to end Jew hatred. We need something more than money for security, we need a change in culture that has allowed the latest era of antisemitism to be normalized. This is not just rooted in white supremacy, but in Black supremacy, Islamist supremacy, demonization and lies about Israel, as well as all the old and ancient stereotypes about Jews. Hated takes root with words but often doesn’t end there. Antisemitism isn’t the same as other forms of racism or discrimination and can’t be countered in the same way.
There is a great deal of literature on how “woke” ideology and progressivism is contributing to antisemitism. It is time to confront this. It is essential that the government and its advisors recognize that the teaching of critical race theory is divisive, racist, biased and without evidence. It is pitting children against one another and forging ideological opinions, not facts-based learning. Inherent in CRT is antisemitism and it must be challenged. Jews come in all colours. Jews are not colonizers in their own ancient and eternal homeland. Arabs were invaders, part of a history of invasions and the erosion of Jewish heritage and exiling of Jews from the land. But there were always continuous Jewish communities despite the centuries of foreign empires and invasions.
Zionism is the belief in the nation state of Israel in its ancient lands, and is NOT colonialism or racism and has never been that. CRT is contributing to ignorance, not to the advancement of knowledge, not to true critical thinking and discourse, and not to research and human development.
In requiring all educators and boards to be educated about IHRA, and responsible for using it to guide awareness and action to end Jew hatred, you will be giving the educational system one of the key tools needed to address diversity and inclusion for Jews, a significantly marginalized group in today’s polarized world.
Minister Lecce, we would appreciate an opportunity to meet with you in person or virtually, to discuss our serious concern and bold request for you as our champion to End Jew Hatred.
Andria Spindel, Executive Director