October 26, 2016, CIJA
Toronto, ON – Today, Canada’s university presidents voted to adopt a new set of mandatory criteria for member universities at a meeting of Universities Canada, which serves as the voice of 97 Canadian institutions of higher education. The new policy stipulates that “place of origin” must be included in university codes of conduct alongside other protected grounds, such as race, religion, gender, and physical and mental ability.
“We wholeheartedly commend Universities Canada and its membership for this ground-breaking decision,” said Judy Zelikovitz, Vice President of University and Local Partner Services at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). “The new criteria ensure that, by the end of the decade, all of Canada’s major universities will have codes of conduct banning discrimination based on national origin.”
“This represents a crucial defeat for boycott-divestment-sanctions (BDS) activists, who openly call for discrimination against Israelis based on their country of origin,” Zelikovitz added. “Canada’s top academics are committed to building global partnerships, including with Israel’s world-class universities and scholars. This vote by Canada’s universities entrenches a zero-tolerance approach to bigotry based on nationality, and CIJA will be working hard to ensure that this policy is used to block BDS efforts.”
CIJA has had a long-standing, constructive relationship with Universities Canada. During a 2013 mission to Israel co-hosted by CIJA, Universities Canada signed a bilateral agreement with its Israeli counterpart to strengthen partnerships between universities in the two countries. For the past several months, CIJA has worked directly with the leadership of Universities Canada to ensure passage of the new membership criteria banning discrimination on the basis of national origin.
To read more about the recent vote, please click here.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA
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Over this past Family Day Weekend, I spent a lot of time reflecting both about the challenges we face, but also about the incredible strength and resiliency of this community. Jewish students are often at the forefront of hate and discrimination on campus and online, but we are at our most powerful – and most effective – when we work together as one.
With that in mind, I want to provide several important advocacy updates.
First, I am excited to share that Hillel Ontario has begun convening meetings to coordinate advocacy initiatives amongst Jewish campus organizations across the country. The time has come for Hillel Ontario to lead the way in encouraging cooperation to accomplish the goals we collectively share. Joining us in these monthly discussions are Hillel Montreal, Hillel BC, Hillel Ottawa, CJPAC, Hasbara Fellowships and StandWithUs. We appreciate their willingness to engage with us in these important conversations.
Second, I want to update you on the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) matter that galvanized much community discussion last week. In addition to endorsing a motion to divest from companies doing business in Israel, the union misrepresented the recently released report of the Antisemitism Working Group and its approach to what does or does not constitute antisemitism. Hillel views these type of divestment motions as part of a wider issue of antisemitism on campus, and we have made that point clearly and consistently to university leadership and members of the Working Group for the better part of the past year.
Late Friday, Working Group members released an important statement, which both criticized the rhetoric of union leaders, and vindicated our belief that hate speech directed at Israel, Israelis or Jews based on actions (real or imagined) of the Israeli government is antisemitism. This is an important moment; one that underscores why our approach to these issues, and the allies we foster across campus are so critical. While we may not be able to stop every divestment motion from passing, we can – and we will continue to – have our voices heard by university leadership to ensure antisemitism remains on the margins. This is precisely what happened last week at the UofT.
Jewish students deserve to study, live and socialize in an environment free from harassment and discrimination. Hillel will continue to condemn antisemitism, defend Israel and our right to self-determination, and build essential relationships on campus to secure the well-being of the students we so proudly serve.
And, we will do so in concert with our allies; because we believe we are stronger together.
Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer