On March 29, 2017, the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) voted to adopt the Canadian government’s definition of antisemitism as outlined in the 2010 The Ottawa Protocol on Combating Antisemitism, which was previously rejected by the RSU in 2014.
The definition provides contemporary examples of anti-Semitism, including calling for or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of radical ideology or an extremist view of religion, making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews, accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, denying the Holocaust and accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
In addition, the definition includes denying Jews the right to self-determination, by claiming, for example, that the existence of a State of Israel is a “racist endeavour”, applying double standards by requiring of it behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, using symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism, comparing Israeli policy to the Nazis and holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel.
In a statement, Aidan Fishman, B’nai Brith Canada’s Campus Advocacy Coordinator, called it an “important step which should be followed by other Canadian student unions” and added that “ignorance about antisemitism is an obvious issue at Ryerson. The adoption of a clear definition should help to remedy this problem.”
In February of this year, following a complaint from B’nai Brith, Ryerson teaching assistant Ayman Elkasrawy was dismissed from his position after a video was uncovered in which Alkaswary called Jews “filth” while leading a prayer at a downtown Toronto mosque.
Following the dismissal, Ryerson President issued a statement reaffirming the university’s commitment to broadening education and awareness of anti-Semitism.
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]