December 3, 2021
Toronto, ON – In May, materials were circulated to TDSB educators that included content that was antisemitic and promoted terrorism. Upon learning about those materials, TDSB Trustee Alexandra Lulka issued a statement raising concerns about them, which resulted in a complaint against her and an investigation by the Integrity Commissioner.
Yesterday, the Integrity Commissioner released a report that finds that the resources circulated in May did in fact contain content that was antisemitic and promoted terrorism. Despite that conclusion, and because Trustee Lulka’s comments did not also include an acknowledgement of positive elements in the material circulated, the report recommends Trustee Lulka be censured.
In response, Noah Shack, Vice President at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs issued the following:
“It is astonishingly unreasonable to compel a Jewish trustee calling out Jew-hatred to also highlight positive elements in the resources. The recommendation to censure her for not doing so is misguided and must be rejected. Punishing Trustee Lulka is contrary to the values of an educational institution purporting to engender learning and mutual respect.
“This takes place against the disturbing backdrop of what the Integrity Commissioner affirms is a School Board Human Rights Office with “a very limited view of the definition of antisemitism, an incorrect definition of certain terms in the Jewish narrative.” A censure will have a chilling effect on Jewish students, staff, and educators who are already feeling intimidated to share their lived experience of antisemitism within the TDSB and speak out against Jew-hatred when they see it.
“When resources that include Jew-hatred and promoting terrorist groups banned under Canadian law are distributed to educators to use in the classroom, there must be accountability. When antisemitism is promoted or supported by Board staff, unequivocal condemnation is required. All too often, a double standard has been applied when it comes to antisemitism within the TDSB, and the impact of Jew-hatred is erased or excused. The Board must take immediate, meaningful, and reparative action to fix the rot of antisemitism, particularly with its Human Rights Office.
“Jew-hate is impacting our children, teachers, and families, and creating a toxic and hostile environment for learners and educators. It is time to end the double standards and for the Board to commit to an action plan to combat antisemitism. Just as the Board has dedicated strategies to support 2SLGBTQ+ students and staff and address anti-Black and anti-Asian racism, the Board must also act decisively – with a coordinated plan – to stop anti-Jewish racism. We remain committed to supporting the Board in this crucial work, which must move forward with urgency.”
- Page 24 of the Integrity Commissioner’s Report reads, “The HRO [Human Rights Office] did conclude that certain links were problematic and could be reasonably considered to contain antisemitic materials and seen to be contributing to antisemitism.”
- On Page 24, the report continues, “the HRO confirmed that some of the materials contained in the links support the use of violence and terrorism against Israeli Jews; specifically, including a link to the website of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (a group that is currently on Canada’s Listed Terrorist Entities), documentary and resources about Leila Khaled who was involved in plane hijackings and an interview with Ghassan Kanafani who was involved in violent action against civilians.”
- Page 41 of the Integrity Commissioner’s Report reads, “I found that they [the May Mailouts] did contain some materials that could reasonably be seen as contributing to antisemitism.”
- Page 46 of the Integrity Commissioner’s Report reads,” I am concerned that the [Human Rights Office] HRO has a very limited view of the definition of antisemitism, an incorrect definition of certain terms in the Jewish narrative, including ‘Zionist’, which is painted incorrectly and pejoratively. Further, the fact that the May Mailouts were provided by way of an opt-in registration process does not cancel out the fact that the teachers and students who opt-in, should not be required to read through patently antisemitic materials, even if those are found in a subset of the materials in a link that is constantly being updated.”
- Page 47 of the Integrity Commissioner’s Report reads, “Whether there were 3 articles in links or main material that contained antisemitic materials or 50, even one article with antisemitic materials is too many for the largest school board in Canada to have been distributed.”
- The report will be considered at the December 8 Regular Meeting of TDSB Trustees. The report is found here.
- Press Release: TDSB Reinstates Staff Member Who Distributed Terrorist Materials
- Press Release: CIJA Concerned by Rise of Hate Incidents in Toronto District School Board – CIJA – The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations across Canada.