StandWithUs Canada and Hillel Ryerson Strongly Condemn Ryerson University’s Social Work Students’ Union for Endorsing BDS

by | Dec 2, 2018 | Press Release | 0 comments

December 2nd, 2018

TorontoON, — StandWithUs Canada and Hillel Ryerson, supported by Hillel Ontario, strongly condemn Ryerson University’s Social Work Students’ Union (SWSU) for endorsing Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the discriminatory Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Though cloaked in deceptive wording about human rights, the ultimate goal of BDS is the elimination of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, an inherently antisemitic goal. Furthermore, SJP has a disturbing record of spreading antisemitism on campus, supporting violence and violating free speech at campuses across North America.

“I am a Jewish social work student who feels targeted by the SWSU aligning itself with BDS. This stance provides a platform for antisemitism and the promotion of violence on campus,” said Frankie Aviv, StandWithUs Canada Emerson Fellow, executive member of Hillel Ryerson and Students Supporting Israel (SSI).

In 2017, the Ryerson Student Union (RSU) adopted the Ottawa Protocol as their definition of antisemitism. As part of this definition, the RSU recognizes that antisemitism includes denying Jewish people the right to self-determination, demonizing Israel, and holding the Jewish state to a double standard. These forms of hatred are frequently promoted by BDS and SJP, denying Jewish and pro-Israel students the right to feel safe on their own campus. Indeed, BDS is antisemitic in its effect, if not in its intent. For the SWSU to suggest that they can decide what is and is not antisemitic is simply wrong. No minority group would allow anyone else to define what is hate against their community, and neither should the Jewish campus community.

“As a social work student I honestly feel unsafe to express my Jewish identity. I feel as though my voice has been silenced. Antisemitism is real and is here on campus in my own social work program. I refuse to remain silent”, said Carly Elmalem, a third year social work student.

StandWithUs Canada and Hillel Ryerson call on the SWSU to retract their statement and apologize. We will continue to work together to support the Jewish student community at Ryerson as they fight bigotry and promote tolerance on their campus.

Rebecca Katzman, Canada Campus Coordinator, StandWithUs Canada

Elyse Wieskopf, Director, Hillel Ryerson

Ilan Orzy, Director, Advocacy & Issues Management, Hillel Ontario

Stronger Together!

Stronger Together!

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.

Sincerely,

Jay Solomon
Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer

Nature vs. Nurture, and Nate Deserves Our Anger

Nature vs. Nurture, and Nate Deserves Our Anger

Weekly D’var: Toldot 5782 by Scott Goldstein

[Warning: Ted Lasso show spoiler] I just finished watching the second season of Ted Lasso, and I cannot get the image of the finale out of my head. Haven’t seen it yet? That’s ok, I’ll recap part of this week’s Torah portion as you go catch up and then tie it in at the end for when you get back.

When not detailing the intricate politics of well-digging and water rights, this week’s Torah portion takes some time to highlight our favourite biblical twins – Jacob and Esav (a.k.a. Esau). Some may even refer to this as the first twin study on “Nature vs. Nurture” (shoutout to my psychology peeps) ever recorded. We are presented with brothers that were raised in the same environment but turned out to be polar opposites. I’ll let you read the riveting stories of birthright transactions and elaborate deceptions on your own, but the narrative we are presented with is clear: Jacob is good, and Esav is bad. Here’s the problem I had with this narrative: If Esav was raised in a good environment, but still did bad things, then is the Torah telling us that our destiny is sealed by nature?

I just finished watching Ted Lasso, and I cannot help but think about how loveable Nate (played by Nick Mohammed) is a perfect example of what I think our Torah portion is trying to tell us. Ted Lasso (played masterfully by Jason Sudeikis) created a nurturing environment where Nate could grow from invisible kit manager to assistant coach that everyone loves. Despite all that, it comes down to the decisions Nate made to allow jealousy to influence his actions, leading him to leave Richmond FC and betray his teammates by joining West Ham United.

I think the story we read in the Torah is reminding us that both nature and nurture are really important (just as science does), but our decisions, ultimately, are our own. Whether it’s Esav going down in history as the ultimate example of bad decision-making or Nate likely being the reason we see Ted cry next season, the lesson is clear… be like Jacob because we can make good decisions no matter the circumstances.

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