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Letter to President of TMU querying rational for cancelling IDF Commander scheduled to speak Mar 27

April 5, 2023


Dr. Mohamed Lachemi,

President and Vice-Chancellor,

Toronto Metropolitan University

pres@torontomu.ca


Dear President Lachemi,


It is with grave disappointment and concern that I write to you on behalf of the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation, to draw your attention to the unfortunate, unexpected and unacceptable cancellation of an event Monday, March 27, 2023 at TMU. The student organization, Students Supporting Israel, was peremptorily advised that an event they had booked would need campus security and that the Security Department would not make such available, on what they deemed short notice.


Firstly, the space at Oldham House had been booked sufficiently in advance that it allowed for Security to arrange to have the required staff present. Secondly, the group, SSI offered to pay for security and was denied that opportunity. Thirdly, no such security was necessary given the steps that SSI had taken to ensure only pre-registered individuals could attend. Fourthly, one would expect some expression of support, interest, assistance to ensure this event would go ahead.


What was anticipated was a protest, organized by a non-student, who is on line ranting against Israel and the Jews on a regular basis. Your staff could have assessed whether this posed any serious threat, or was just a nuisance. Do you normally shut down events that might attract negative attention? Was the assumption that there was a real risk, and what was that risk, based on what evidence?


Calls to “free Palestine, from the River to the Sea,” are significantly antisemitic, signaling a desire to eradicate the only Jewish State in the world which is a call for genocide, thus showing utter disrespect for the concept of co-existence between Arabs and Jews. This is what the protesters were calling for, as they spread lies about Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. Equally and even more important, President Lachemi, is that the speaker Lt. Col Eyal Dror, was addressing the amazing humanitarian project that saved thousands of Syrian lives. He was the Commander who established the Good Neighbor Project, providing incredible medical service to those wounded by the Syrian government’s forces, and assisting children with disabilities, the elderly and others who arrived at the perilous border between the two countries.


How could your security staff not assess that this program was itself a potential bridge building program? How could you allow for Jewish students to be forced off campus to hear their speaker who had travelled overnight from Israel to be in Toronto? How can your administration ignore what is going on when Jewish students propose a program to enlighten and celebrate the good works of Israel in a region of conflict?


We call upon you to investigate this matter, apologize to SSI, and publicize that Israeli speakers are welcome at TMU and will not be cancelled, and any protest will be addressed by the university and not be the responsibility of Jewish students to navigate.


We look forward to your earliest response.


Regards



Andria Spindel,

Executive Director

cc. Shira Mammon, President, SSI chapter, TMU

Ilan Sinelnikov, Founder and President, SSI

Jessie Greenspan, Interim Director, Hillel TMU

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