To be customized before sending. Recommended recipients based on relevance and your preference: University President’s Office, University Dean, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Alumni Office, Board of Governors Chair.
I am concerned after hearing reports from students, staff, and faculty feeling targeted by hate and harassment based on their identity at our university campuses. They continue to report feeling threatened and afraid in common spaces. Students are scared to go to class and to express their views. Their fear is not that their ideas will be subjected to uncomfortable critical inquiry, but that expressing their ideas will endanger their physical safety or lead to retaliation by instructors. This cannot be allowed to continue.
Some examples of what my community has witnessed on Canadian campuses and heard from Jewish campus community members these past few weeks include:
- Jewish students were harassed, property damaged, and even physically assaulted during hateful anti-Israel protests falsely identified as pro-Palestinian rallies
- Several recognized clubs, student unions, and even a university chaplain publicly condoned the terrorist actions of Hamas
- Posters of Israeli hostages were torn down on several university campuses
- Rallies on and off campus hosted by university clubs in partnership with the Palestinian Youth Movement – an organization associated with the terrorist-listed PFLP
- Faculty-endorsed anti-Israel sit-ins and rally participation for course credit
- A mezuzah was ripped from the doorpost of a Jewish student’s home on campus
- Many on campus are hesitating to identify outwardly as Jewish by wearing a kippah, a Star of David, or installing a mezuzah in the doorway of their dorm room
Jewish people in Canada and around the world are reeling from the heinous terrorist attacks committed by Hamas in Israel on October 7, 2023. This series of massacres, rapes, and kidnappings targeted innocent civilians, from infants to the elderly, and has sparked a marked increase in antisemitism –including on Canadian campuses. As I’m sure you are aware, Hamas has, for more than 20 years, been designated as a terrorist entity by Canada. Their objectives, as laid out in their founding Charter are the annihilation of Jews and the destruction of the Jewish state.
I am calling on your institution [my alma mater/where my child is a student] to ensure the concerns of the Jewish campus community are immediately addressed by:
Implementing a zero-tolerance policy against antisemitism and glorification of terrorism. Publicly condemn and formally investigate acts of antisemitic intimidation and glorification of terrorism, including the terrorist acts against Israeli civilians on October 7, that are on display at Canadian campuses. Make clear that all direct threats, incitement to violence, or support of international terrorism are unacceptable.
Developing a clear safety plan for students, staff, and faculty. The well-being of all students, including Jewish and Israeli students, is of paramount importance. We encourage institutions to work with campus Hillels and other key stakeholders, including campus security and local law enforcement, to develop and implement a safety plan.
Restating expectations for a safe and productive campus environment. Put an end to the toxic campus environment by clearly defining the boundaries of what is and is not condoned in the quad or the classroom and enforcing institutional policies. We ask that all campus members be reminded that academic freedom and freedom of expression are not absolute. Discrimination is not tolerated in our society. Jewish students should not be made to feel ostracized, singled out, or dismissed by educators, nor should they feel intimidated to share their opinion on Israel.
Connecting with campus Jewish organizations. We ask you to reach out to mainstream Jewish organizations and leaders serving Jewish students on campus to offer support, open clear channels of communication, and partner with them to assess and meet their needs.
- Providing resources. It is imperative to share campus wellness and security resources with students, staff, and faculty to ensure the mental and physical well-being of those impacted, both directly and indirectly, by the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Our community institutions – campus Hillels, local Jewish Federations, and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) – are available as partners and resources to you during this difficult time. I recommend you contact CIJA (Scott Goldstein, Director of University Relations at CIJA, [email protected]) to ensure you are connected with all relevant Jewish community resources.
[your name and details]