B’nai Brith Canada is “highly disappointed” with a University of Toronto report detailing measures the school plans to institute in response to longstanding issues of antisemitism on its campus.
The release of the university’s Antisemitism Working Group (AWG) Final Report on campus antisemitism came after years of pressure by Jewish students, faculty and organizations, including B’nai Brith.
“Clearly, the situation is grave and needs to be addressed immediately,” they said. “The AWG Final Report has left the university’s Jewish students and faculty members, as well as Canada’s Jewish community, without any assurance they are welcome and safe on campus.”
In response, B’nai Brith released a “highly detailed and critical analysis” of the AWG Final Report outlining “serious flaws” that the advocacy organization found in the AWG’s methodology.
Their analysis found that “the AWG Final Report refuses to at all address or acknowledge any of the grievous antisemitic incidents that have transpired at the University of Toronto since 2015, and which forced B’nai Brith Canada to issue its own respective report in 2020.”
It also denounced the AWG Final report for not attempting to “confront or eliminate antisemitism at the University of Toronto.”
“Instead, the AWG’s Final Report constantly endeavours to reaffirm that the University of Toronto’s commitment to promote ‘free speech’ and ‘academic freedom’ supersedes its responsibility to protect its Jewish students and faculty members from antisemitism, danger, violence, and hate,” B’nai Brith wrote.
They noted that while the University of Toronto already has the infrastructure in place to effectively address antisemitic incidents that occur on its campuses, “Unfortunately, the Jewish community has been systematically ignored and excluded from numerous aspects of the infrastructure that the University of Toronto has erected to address racism and hate or equity related-incidents on its campuses.”
Rebuking the AWG for rejecting the IHRA working definition of antisemitism – “In fact, the AWG’s Final Report emphatically refuses to at all define ‘antisemitism’ – B’nai Brith called the AWG’s consultation process “biased and not at all comprehensive or fulsome.”
B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said in their response that “our government should be extremely concerned the University of Toronto has failed to properly address the numerous allegations of antisemitism on its campus in this deeply flawed report.”
“The University of Toronto enjoys existing policies and mechanisms to investigate and discipline faculty, staff, and students who engage in discriminatory behaviour,” Mostyn said in a statement. “If it does not, then the policies themselves are rendered meaningless. If it does, but does not enforce them, they are rendered equally meaningless.”