B’nai Brith Canada said on Wednesday that it is appalled by a counterproductive report from the University of Toronto that will allow a climate of antisemitism to continue on its campus.
U of T’s Antisemitism Working Group, formed in December of 2020 and composed of academics and campus bureaucrats, issued its final report on Wednesday, following a very brief interim report on March 26.
The final report, which has been in the works for a year, is a mere 25 pages long and contains eight recommendations. By contrast, noted B’nai Brith in a statement, a U of T report on anti-Black racism released in April is 86 pages long and contains 56 recommendations. The Antisemitism Report fails to address any of the significant antisemitic scandals that have rocked U of T in the past few years.
In June of 2020, B’nai Brith submitted its own report to U of T outlining concrete measures the university could take using existing policy tools to combat antisemitism. U of T’s report Wednesday ignores B’nai Brith’s recommendations and analysis, which were based on an in-depth study of the school's bylaws and regulations.
“In our report, we offered concrete suggestions to U of T in what we called A Path Forward,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Birth Canada. “In this report from U of T today, we see a path backward.”
Notably, said B’nai Brith, the U of T report fails to recommend that the University adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, which is already being used by leading global universities such as Oxford and Cambridge.
U of T has been in the headlines over antisemitism in recent weeks.
In late November, the student union at the university’s Scarborough campus voted in favor of a resolution that eliminates funding for student groups that support Israel. The resolution reaffirmed the union’s commitment to the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel and prohibited a range of engagements with groups, businesses or individuals with ties to Israel — including kosher food distributors.
The resolution was condemned by Jewish groups in Canada as well as by the leadership of the University of Toronto itself. Following the criticism, the union purportedly revoked the clause dealing with kosher food, but left the other antisemitic measures intact.
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 antisemitic tweets issued by its official Twitter account.
"The situation at U of T has deteriorated and the University has laid an egg," Marvin Rotrand, National Director of B'nai Brith's League for Human Rights, said on Wednesday. "It is a report that says and does nothing. What a contrast to the Prime Minister's commitments made on Canada's behalf at the Malmo Forum just two months ago."
“This report is beyond disappointing and demonstrates that U of T does not take antisemitism seriously,” Mostyn added. “It is unfathomable that the IHRA definition was adopted by the Canadian Government, as well as the Province of Ontario, but somehow remains ‘unworthy’ for this academic institution. Hate and discrimination clearly persist at U of T and Jewish students deserved a report to improve that antisemitic atmosphere.”
“Our government should be extremely concerned that U of T has failed to properly address the numerous allegations of antisemitism on its campus in this deeply flawed report,” said Mostyn.