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Ryerson University. Photo: CIJnews

Ryerson U makes “Top 10 List” of worst global anti-Semitic incidents of 2016

On December 27, 2016, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre published its annual “Top Ten Worst Global Anti-Semitic/Anti-Israel List”.

Toronto’s Ryerson University, which in 2014 voted in favour of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, came in at No. 4. BDS, which Ryerson’s student union embraced, is rejected by both the federal and Ontario governments because it singles out Israel for differential treatment and promotes or encourages a form of hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance against Israeli citizens as well as diaspora Jews.

In 2015, campus group Students Supporting Israel at Ryerson University (SSI) reported that an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic graffiti was found on a men bathroom stall which read “Fuck Israel and anyone who supports the cock sucking Jews. Israel burn in Hell. Stealing Palestinian land. Motherfuckers! Spit in Israelis.” The discriminatory act was condemned by the university and a reward was offered for the arrest of the perpetrator.

On November 29, 2016, a motion to host Holocaust Education Week on campus was quashed by Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Student Association, who staged a planned walkout to deprive the committee of a quorum for the vote, an act whic was widely condemned as anti-Semitic.

According to Aedan O’Connor, a pro-Israel advocate and Ryerson student, “when presenting the motion, we were snickered at and told to sit down and not present by other students. When it approached the time to vote on this motion a large group of students started messaging each other and coordinated a walk out to rid the assembly of quorum. This was done to silence Jewish students. I wish I could say that that I am aghast or distressed. But I could not muster the tears that were falling from my friends’ faces. I have grown despondent from the abundant anti-Semitism present in the diaspora. I have grown accustomed to being silenced because of my Judaism. That doesn’t mean that it is fair or all right. So tonight I take my voice back. I condemn in the strongest terms what my peers did. We will take this motion further and I promise that we will ensure that there is something to allay anti-Semitism at Ryerson and in the greater community.”

“This outrageous incident is emblematic of the kind of antisemitism and anti-Jewish sentiment that is rampant on Ontario campuses,” Amanda Hohmann, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights, said at that time. “Jewish students need action, not just words, from the Government of Ontario, as much of this bigotry is funded by taxpayer dollars.”

The motion to endorse Holocaust Week Education at Ryerson finally passed on December 19, 2016, following a meeting between Canadian Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Ryerson University President Mohamed Lachemi.

On December 16, 2016, Ibrahim Khan, Ryerson Students’ Union staff member, apologized after posting a photo of Hitler a discriminatory post on a Facebook group which incited a heated exchange where jokes and memes about the Holocaust were centerfold.

Simon Wiesenthal’s Top 10 “list of shame” also includes the Netherlands for its inability to protect the Jewish population from anti-Semitism, France for singling out Israel for discrimination by labelling Israeli products made in Judea and Samaria – the Jewish biblical and historic heartland – as made in the “Occupied Territories”, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom for accusing Israel of carrying out “extra-judicial killings” of Palestinian terrorists, as well as Palestinian Authority and Hamas –for their deep-rooted Jew hatred, incitement to violence and terrorism against Israelis.

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About Ilana Shneider

Ilana Shneider
Ilana Shneider is the co-editor of CIJnews and the founding executive director of Canada-Israel Friendship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mutually beneficial, long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel. She can be reached at [email protected]

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