B’nai Brith Canada said it is relieved that an attempt to censure a Jewish trustee of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) for speaking out against anti-Semitism has failed.
According to B’nai Brith, the situation began in May, during a controversy over material distributed by Toronto District School Board (TDSB) equity advisor Javier Dávila. In response, TDSB trustee Alexandra Lulka expressed her concern on social media and called for a full investigation by the board.
Lulka, who is Jewish, represents Ward 5 – York Centre, which has the largest Jewish population of any TDSB ward.
While the TDSB’s Human Rights Office found that the materials “could reasonably be considered to contain antisemitic material, references, or allusions” and that “materials contained in the links support the use of violence and terrorism against Israeli Jews,” Lulka was nonetheless subjected to a complaint before the TDSB integrity commissioner.
The commissioner cleared Lulka of allegations of harassment, improperly influencing a TDSB investigation, and maliciously or falsely defaming the reputation of a TDSB employee.
However, B’nai Brith noted that the commissioner went on to accuse Lulka of discriminating against Muslims and Palestinian Arabs, recommending that the TDSB censure her for this.
“Bizarrely, the commissioner reached this conclusion even though Lulka never referenced Muslims or Palestinians in her comments, and the person whose actions she was criticizing is neither Muslim nor Palestinian,” B’nai Brith said in a statement.
Before Wednesday’s vote, B’nai Brith highlighted what it termed “serious legal errors” in the report, including its “failure to conduct an analysis under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, its attempt to dictate a position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a Jewish trustee, and the apparent bias of one of the two lawyers retained by the TDSB to investigate the matter.”
“TDSB trustees have listened to reason and made the only justifiable decision tonight,” said B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn. “There was never any basis for censuring Trustee Lulka, and the ‘investigation’ into her actions appears to have been nothing but a contrived witch-hunt.”
Mostyn added: “However, this saga is far from over. The TDSB needs to come clean about its initial handling of this issue in May, as well as its deeply flawed investigation. B’nai Brith will not rest until the entire truth is revealed and systemic anti-Semitism is defeated at the TDSB.”