University of Toronto
University of Toronto iStock

In response to the University of Toronto at Scarborough’s (UTSC) student union voting to eliminate funding for student groups that support Israel, Avi Benlolo, chairman of the Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI), is calling for the public to sign a “Bill of Rights” for Jewish students “feeling harassed on university campuses around the world.”

Benlolo noted that the “university’s students union went as far as discouraging if possible the sourcing of kosher food from pro-Israel vendors – an outrageous form of religious and ethical discrimination. Even while the union claims to be against anti-Semitism, its very action and language contravenes the internationally accepted working definition of anti-Semitism in tone and spirit as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).”

In that regard, Benlolo called upon the public to sign the AGPI’s Campus Declaration, which was created to combat “campus anti-Semitism and relentless attacks against Israel” at the University of Toronto.

Addressed to University of Toronto President Meric S. Gertler, the declaration says that “we are outraged by the latest development at your university” in which the “University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Student Union (SCSU) at their Annual General Meeting reaffirmed their commitment to Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.”

It adds: “We call on you to immediately denounce and condemn this vicious attack, implement anti-discrimination policies to overturn it and adopt the following mandate that will promote human rights at the University of Toronto.”

It then outlines a “Student Bill of Rights.”

The Bill of Rights speaks to the inherent right of all students to “live free of indignation” on university campuses, and notes that Jewish students have been “victimized by anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination by virtue of either their religious, ideological and political affiliations or by their self-identity as being Jewish.”

It explains that under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – and using the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism as a guide to understanding “manifestations of anti-Semitism” – institutions of higher learning “have an obligation under their own mandate to preserve, protect and defend the rights of students and faculty to function freely and without intimidation or feeling of victimization.”

It concludes that as “anti-Semitism and hatred of the Jewish people is manifesting on campuses universally and is a detriment to the welfare of and wellbeing of Jewish and non-Jewish students who believe in the existence of the State of Israel and advocate for such,” universities must protect students against anti-Semitism, hate and discrimination.

“The onus and responsibility is on these institutions to act accordingly to stop events and functions that promote discrimination against the Jewish people and their friends and advocates,” it adds. “We hereby hold these institutions accountable for any and all acts that go against national and international conventions that are set forth to protect and defend students.”

The declaration calls for the public to sign it in solidarity with Jewish students.

It ends with: “By signing this declaration, I hereby stand with Jewish and pro-Israel students on university and college campuses. I declare that they are not alone and that they have every right to self-expression under the protection of universal and national legal conventions. I will neither tolerate nor will I accept the rising tide of anti-Semitism nor will I stay silent in this regard.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

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