Dr. Uton Robinson Executive Superintendent – Learning Centre One Toronto District School Board 5050 Yonge Street Toronto ON
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Dear Dr. Robinson;
We are in receipt of your undated letter to parents and guardians of students at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute, informing them of the plan for staff and students to “work with Palestinian-Canadian Beisan Zubi” and that “Our work with Beisan will focus on affirming all identities, which includes but is not limited to the honouring the multiplicities of Palestinian identities. It should be noted that this work supports our commitment to ensure that all identities is valued in our schools.”
Please be assured, Dr. Robinson, that the Jewish and Israeli communities in Toronto are not naïve. We are fully aware of Ms. Zubi’s extensive history of partisan and extremist anti-Israel propaganda on her Twitter feed.
We are fully aware of Ms. Zubi’s documented support of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the State of Israel, a position that the Prime Minster of Canada has unequivocally stated is antisemitic. We are fully aware of Ms. Zubi’s characterization of the State of Israel as a “settler colonial” state and her support of violence against Israel as a “settler colonial state”. Since Jews have lived in Israel for over 3000 years that statement is patently false.
Dr. Robinson, the Middle East conflicts feature extremists and radicals of all kinds. Calls for the genocide of all Israelis is not only extreme it is inhumane, illegal in countries operating under the rule of law, and dangerous for Jews across the globe. The Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation adheres to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism and the denial of Israel’s existence, the demonization and double standards in judging her, are clearly antisemitic. Both senior levels of Canadian government have adopted IHRA as has the TDSB; therefore you must apply it in consideration of all programs and policies.
At the CAEF, we firmly oppose the TDSB’s selection of an individual with a track record of demonizing and delegitimizing the State of Israel, calling it “genocidal”, and are incredulous that such person would be invited to work with the TDSB administration, staff and students as an “equity consultant”.
The TDSB’s Multi-year Strategic Plan, and Equity Policy P037, Combatting Hate and Racism: Student Learning Strategy is not intended to be, and must not be allowed to serve as a fig-leaf covering an exercise in anti-Israel propaganda at its schools. The TDSB’s “persistent, on-going, intentional practice” must center the “voices, identities, and lived experiences” of all students, including Jewish and/or Israeli students.
Ask yourself whether the program you are planning with Ms. Zubi will leave Jewish and/or Israeli students and staff at MGCI, and elsewhere in the TDSB, with the feeling that their voices, identities, and lived experiences are honoured and valued. Remember that according to the Ontario Human Rights Code and the TDSB Human Rights Policy, "national or ethnic origin", which includes Israeli nationality, is a protected category. As importantly, the remarks made by this particular “equity consultant” are potentially dangerous to the safety of Jews in this city, Jewish students within the TDSB, and given the rise in antisemitism in Toronto, pose a great danger to the very vibrancy of this multi-ethnic city.
We demand that these events be postponed pending a TDSB review of the social media history of Ms. Zubi and will be sending a representative to attend the community meeting on April 29 to gather information and demand accountability about what is to be presented. We note that under TDSB Interim Operational Procedure PR589 (revised November 30, 2021) external speakers must be vetted, and that one of the score sheet vetting criteria is that the “Speaker’s published materials (if any) have been reviewed and confirmed to align with TDSB’s vision, MYSP, equity and human rights policies.” We will be filing an information request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the score sheet created regarding Ms. Zubi’s work, and all related documentation approving such work.
CC: Colleen Russell-Rawlins, Director of Education
TDSB Trustees Councillor James Pasternak Councillor Josh Matlow H.E. Idit Shamir, Consul General of Israel, Toronto and Western Canada Principal Marc Garneau Collegiate