B'nai Brith takes Toronto school board to task for 'turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism'

B’nai Brith is leading a complaint against the Toronto District School Board for failing to tackle anti-Jewish content shared with teachers.

Dan Verbin ,

Toronto
Toronto
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B’nai Brith Canada is spearheading a complaint to the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) alleging that an employee of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) “shared material glorifying terrorists and justifying the murder of Israelis.”

The TDSB has been harshly criticized by Jewish groups for its July reinstatement of an equity advisor who distributed anti-Israel material justifying “martyrdom operations” to teachers.

Javier Davila, a student equity program advisor with the board, allegedly circulated two emails to a TDSB educator listserv in May, during the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

The emails were described by B’nai Brith Canada as “virulently anti-Israel teaching material, repeatedly describing Israelis as a whole as ‘colonizers’ in their indigenous homeland.”

“As previously documented by B’nai Brith, the emails contained writings by Laila Khaled and Ghassan Kanafani, prominent members of the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a designated terrorist entity in Canada,” B’nai Brith said. “One flyer promoted by Dávila, prepared by the ‘New England Committee to Defend Palestine,’ even justifies Palestinian suicide bombings and falsely accuses ‘Zionists’ of plotting genocide against Palestinians.”

B’nai Brith has responded to the situation by assuming control of a complaint to the OCT. The letter accuses Davila of “engaging in professional misconduct by sending the emails.”

The advocacy group is also appealing the TDSB’s refusal of its freedom of information request regarding records of the investigation into Davila.

B’nai Brith noted that the TDSB has never publicly stated why the equity advisor was reinstated without discipline, even though it admitted that “the resources in question were not vetted prior to distribution” and also said that “had they been, they would not have been approved.”

Noting that according to the TDSB’s own statistics, Jewish students were the most targeted religious group within its schools in 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said, “We will not allow Canada’s largest school board to turn a blind eye to anti-Semitism.”

He added: “The TDSB owes the Canadian Jewish community an explanation, as well as a commitment to never allowing this to happen again.”

Mostyn called the situation “unacceptable” and said that it “must change.”

“As it stands, Jewish families in Toronto are being forced to choose between a public school board that does little to protect their children, or sending their children to independent schools that receive no public funding, not even for COVID-19 health measures,” he said.



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