crrns_control March 10, 2020

TORONTO – Ontario politicians are joining Hasbara Fellowships Canada in calling on the University of Toronto to cancel the week-long hatefest known as Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).

Ontario MPP Roman Baber and Toronto City Councillor James Pasternak have both issued statements condemning IAW after Jewish U of T students complained it leads to their harassment on campus.

At U of T, IAW is scheduled to begin Sunday with an event featuring Angela Davis, an anti-Israel activist and defender of Rasmeah Odeh, who was convicted of coordinating a terrorist attack that took the lives of two Jewish university students.

It will also include events with Abby Martin, who has compared Israel to the genocidal Nazi regime, and Yafa Jarrar, who has made a career out of defending her mother Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a listed terror group in Canada. 

All three have defended terrorism and/or promoted age-old antisemitic tropes in their bid to vilify the Jewish State.

In a letter to U of T President Meric Gertler, Daniel Koren, Executive Director of Hasbara Canada, urged the university to take advantage of the growing momentum to shut down IAW, citing similar events featuring hateful anti-Israel speakers at both York University and McMaster University that were cancelled this week.

“President Gertler, you have the chance to set an important precedent in the fight against antisemitism and xenophobia by putting a stop to Israeli Apartheid Week on campus once and for all,” Koren wrote. “IAW is not merely a ‘critique’ of Israeli policies, it is part of a campaign that targets the freedom of speech of Jewish and pro-Israel Canadians. 

“The time has come to say no to antisemitic hatred under the guise of ‘anti-Israel activism.’ Your administration must encourage groups that purport to support Palestinian rights (such as Students Against Israeli Apartheid, SAIA) to actually support Palestinian rights – rather than solely focusing on demonizing and delegitimizing the Jewish State.”

In his statement, MPP Baber correctly asserted that U of T’s “Statement on Free Speech” states that freedom of expression on campus “depends upon an environment of tolerance and mutual respect. Every member of the University community should be able to work, live, teach, and learn in a university free from discrimination and harassment.”

IAW is in direct violation of this statement, Baber said. Furthermore, it is a violation of the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism, a significant aspect of Bill 168 in Ontario, which passed second reading in the Legislature just weeks ago. Hasbara has long advocated for the adoption of the definition.

“The so-called Israeli Apartheid Week does not represent the values that this institution claims to espouse,” added Councillor Pasternak. “Although free speech is conducive to liberal democratic society, we must be wary of speech that promotes hate and incites demonization, using the façade of academia to advance a preposterous analogy of the Israel-Palestinian question. 

“Organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week refuse to engage in healthy and positive discourse, instead perpetuating false and harmful propaganda of an Israeli Apartheid. This shameful discourse – born out of ignorance and fuelled by intolerance – has caused great pain in many communities and has tarnished Toronto’s reputation. 

“A university campus should not be the site of hate and discrimination,” Pasternak said. “I urge the administration of the University of Toronto to stop giving the organizers of the events this week the space to spread such offensive messages.”

To add your name to the chorus of voices demanding that the IAW hatefest be shut down, please email President Gertler at meric.gertler@utoronto.ca.