Definition of anti-Semitism and anti-Semite
Definition of anti-Semitism and anti-Semite iStock

In what B’nai Brith Canada is calling a “rare and welcome step,” Ontario’s elementary teachers union has endorsed a resolution to combat the rise of anti-Semitism in Canada.

At their annual general meeting last week, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) passed a resolution to “establish a task force to combat anti-Semitism in Ontario.”

The measure noted that “anti-Semitism reached an all-time high since May 2021” and was “in line with preliminary figures gathered by B’nai Brith Canada.”

The resolution was supported by B’nai Brith and Educators Against Antisemitism.

B’nai Brith called on other unions in Ontario and in Canada to follow the ETFO’s example.

“This resolution is an extremely positive development, and we congratulate ETFO members on taking this step,” said B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn. “Tackling anti-Semitism in Canada is a whole-of-society endeavour, and elementary teachers have a critical role to play.”

The ETFO’s resolve to tackle rising anti-Semitism comes after multiple instances of anti-Jewish discrimination involving Ontario public schools.

In July, B’nai Brith slammed the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) for reinstating an equity advisor who distributed anti-Israel material justifying “martyrdom operations” to teachers.

Javier Davila, a student equity program advisor with the board, 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 as “virulently anti-Israel teaching material, repeatedly describing Israelis as a whole as ‘colonizers’ in their indigenous homeland.”

B’nai Brith said that it has since been in contact with the Ontario College of Teachers, the regulatory body for teachers in the province, about Dávila’s actions.

Last week, two public schools in Ontario were vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti.

On Monday, Charlton Public School, in heavily Jewish Thornhill, north of Toronto, was vandalized with swastikas and other vulgar graffiti.

A public school in Chatham, east of Windsor, was also vandalized with similar anti-Jewish graffiti.

On Wednesday, B’nai Brith officials met with Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce to discuss the urgency of combating the increasing problem of anti-Semitism in the province’s schools.