Jewish groups in Canada on Thursday expressed outrage after a student union in Toronto passed an anti-Israel resolution.
Hasbara Fellowships Canada demanded that the University of Toronto at Scarborough (UTSC) intervene after its student union (SCSU) voted to eliminate funding for student groups that support Israel.
At its annual general meeting on Wednesday, the student union passed a motion in support of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. A subsection of the original motion passed in 2013 now requires that any kosher food brought to campus must come from an organization that does not support “Israeli apartheid.”
The subsection states that if Jewish students cannot find such an organization, kosher food suppliers that support “Israeli apartheid” shall be granted exemptions.
The motion also says that student union must “refrain from engaging with organizations, services, or take part in events that further normalize Israeli apartheid.”
Gabriela Rosenblum, a Hasbara Fellow at UTSC, harshly condemned the motion and said, “This BDS vote undoes all the critical work done by this student government. This motion requires that Jews at UTSC prove that they are ‘good Jews’ in the eyes of the student government, distinct from the many ‘bad Jews’ who support Israel. This motion even defines antisemitism for the Jewish students on campus.”
“These are hurdles that exist for no other group. It is clear that this motion targets Jews for discrimination. Even for something as simple as ordering jelly donuts for Chanukah, Jewish students at SCSU will now be forced to prove that kosher caterers do not support their Jewish homeland, which is basically impossible,” she continued.
Daniel Koren, Executive Director of Hasbara Canada, echoed Gabriela’s sentiments and said, “This motion is a direct assault on Jewish students at UTSC and aims to hinder their ability to live a Jewish life. Whether the SCSU likes it or not, Israel is an essential part of Jewish identity. They do not have the right to tell Jewish students how to practice Judaism on campus.”
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) called for immediate condemnation and action from University of Toronto administration.
“This motion represents yet another attack on Jewish students and faculty members on campus as well as the broader Jewish community. This ups the ante in an already toxic environment for Jews, further infringing on their ability to lead a normal life on campus. Shame on the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union and on the university administration that has allowed the student union to continue down this slippery slope. The University of Toronto must denounce this and ensure the rights and freedoms of Jewish students are protected,” said FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt.
FSWC said in a statement it has written a letter to U of T President Meric Gertler and U of T Scarborough Principal Wisdom Tettey, calling for the university to immediately speak out against this discriminatory motion and stand up for the rights of Jewish students.
B’nai Brith Canada similarly condemned the motion and said, “The recent antisemitic measures announced by the Scarborough Campus Students' Union (SCSU) are disturbing to B'nai Brith Canada but not surprising, as the University of Toronto's Scarborough Campus has been known as a hotbed of antisemitism for many years.”
“U of T administration has repeatedly failed to confront antisemitism within the institution. In our view, the SCSU's actions violate U of T's anti-discrimination policies, and the administration is therefore obligated to withhold all fees remitted to the SCSU,” it added.
The University of Toronto has been in the headlines several times in recent years in relation to anti-Israel conduct.
In March of 2019, the Graduate Students’ Union approved a motion to make its Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee permanent.
Last year, B’nai Brith Canada condemned CUPE 3902, a labor union at U of T, following a series of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic tweets issued by its official Twitter account.
Several months earlier, CUPE 3902 attempted to host Issam al-Yamani, a Palestinian Arab terrorist facing deportation from Canada, as a speaker at a campus event. The event was nixed by U of T following complaints from B’nai Brith and other groups, but was relocated to CUPE 3902’s own offices instead.