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

Annamie Paul Joins Hillel Ontario

Annamie Paul Joins Hillel Ontario

Last month Hillel Ontario heard from Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada. After winning the leadership race back in October of 2020, Annamie became the first Black person and first Jewish woman to lead a federal Canadian political party. Since then, she has been speaking to Canadians all across the country, spreading messages of hope and inspiration, during a time where these moments are a rarity. No matter the political orientation of the Zoom attendees of this fireside chat, everyone walked away with a few life lessons up their sleeve.

Here are some of my biggest takeaways. First, Annamie spoke about following your passion, a message that I know many students needed to hear. When I graduated from grade 12, I was constantly asked where I saw myself in five years, ten years, and sometimes even twenty years. Although I was asked with the best intentions, I’ve always felt overwhelming pressure to envision a clear career path. Annamie dispelled this myth by referencing the enjoyment associated with the process of discovering your passion rather than having a final goal in mind, and Annamie’s enthusiasm for human rights through a policy lens has shaped the course of her life. Second, Annamie spoke about the importance of speaking up in the face of injustice. Whether you consider yourself an advocate or not, Annamie highlighted the need to follow your moral compass, never remaining complicit. Following Annamie’s time as the leader of the Green Party, it is clear that she isn’t afraid to use her voice and position to shine light on racism, antisemitism, and sexism. These are two lessons I think everyone can learn from.

Annamie spoke about growing up in Toronto Centre (the riding where she will be running in the next federal election), her career as an international lawyer, and her decision to enter politics. As someone who doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional politician, Annamie referenced about the challenges that she’s faced as a Black, Jewish woman. Racism, antisemitism, and sexism were all constant throughout her leadership campaign, and her six months leading the Green Party. 

Throughout Annamie’s talk, I learned about the importance of elevating voices that have previously gone unheard. In a predominantly white space, Hillel students and staff need to work hard to ensure that Jews of Colour feel welcomed. 

After 45 minutes, the latter half of which consisted of an insightful Q&A, Annamie mentioned that she would love to be invited back to another Hillel Ontario fireside chat. For now, I’ll take Annamie’s lessons with me while looking forward to hearing about all of her accomplishments in a year from now.

  • Skylar Banks, Guelph Hillel
Collaboration Breeds Diversity and Inclusion

Collaboration Breeds Diversity and Inclusion

Collaborating with other student organizations allows us to diversify the students at our events, build coalitions, establish good rapport with other student groups and broaden the topics of the content that we deliver. 

This past month, we had the privilege of working with the Waterloo and Laurier chapters of Menstruation Redefined, which is committed to helping with the “institutional and social barriers surrounding menstruation that risk the health, well-being, and daily lives of many.” This mission resonated with us at Hillel because we understand the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion for all. These are values that we hold as Jews, and want to embody at Hillel. 

We joined forces to produce a fun evening of trivia and learning. The event allowed us to reach new students, educate others on Jewish practice for those who menstruate, and learn more about Menstruation Redefined’s mission. Collaborative events like this allow us to understand key issues and causes that other student-run campus groups advocate for and to build strong allyships and ensure that we propel Hillel’s values forward, such as inclusion and equity.

Jessica Bloom, HIllel Waterloo Student President
Veronica Grad, Hillel Laurier Student President

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