"TDSB Trustees Must Vote NO" - CHR Ignores Antisemitism

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|June 19, 2024

Strategy for Combating Hate and Racism Ignores Antisemitism

Toronto, ON – June 18, 2024 – Tonight, TDSB’s Program and School Services Committee met to vote on an update to the TDSB’s Combating Hate and Racism – Student Learning Strategy Update Report, 2024 (CHR).  Committee members voted 5-3 to receive the Report, which will now be sent to the TDSB Board of Trustees to vote on its adoption.

While representatives of the organized Jewish community were not allowed to address the committee, CIJA submitted a written delegation outlining the community’s concerns. CIJA urged committee members to vote “NO” due to proposed updates outlined in the CHR, which failed to address antisemitism and disputed the identity of Jewish Canadians.

With the report now moving forward for review and vote by the complete Board, CIJA is urging Trustees to vote against adopting the CHR and ensure that community priorities relating to antisemitism and discrimination against Jews and Israeli Canadians are addressed.

In response, Jess Burke, Director, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Training, Liaison to 2SLGBTQIA+ Partnerships, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, issued the following statement: 

"Amidst unprecedented levels of antisemitic incidents occurring across Canada, the TDSB’s CHR is flawed, failing to address the drastic, sharp increase in antisemitic incidents, anti-Jewish racism, and anti-Israeli hostility in Toronto schools. We are very disappointed that the Trustees chose to disregard the Director of Education’s expressed concern regarding the report’s missing focus on antisemitism and her recommendation that the report be sent back to staff for further consultation.

“Furthermore, the adoption of “anti-Palestinian racism” in the CHR will result in the censorship of core aspects of Jewish identity. Endeavouring to redefine what does and does not constitute antisemitism, APR is inherently oppressive. No other anti-racist, anti-oppressive definition seeks to deny and dispute the lived experience of another marginalized or multiply-marginalized group. No one other than the Jewish community gets to define what is or is not antisemitism. This should have been avoided at all costs.

“More time and proper study are needed to understand how the specific examples and uses of APR in the CHR can be adapted to avoid further polarization and division of Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish, and Arab students. A definition that speaks over an equity-deserving group is not appropriate and perpetuates abject harm, failing to uphold a safe and inclusive learning environment.

“The repeated, unnecessary politicization of our students, staff, and faculty based on imported international conflicts furthers division, curbs peace-building initiatives, and creates a sub-optimal learning environment for students in which psychological safety cannot be guaranteed.

“We call on the entire TDSB Board of Trustees to vote NO. Any strategy to combat hate and racism must be centred on the Ontario Human Rights Code, creating an inclusive environment for all. The CHR does not meet this standard. Its adoption will not only harm the Jewish and Israeli community and other minority groups not addressed in the Report, but will have a lasting detrimental effect on society, and diminish our intercultural competency for generations to come.


Additional Background 

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Le Centre consultatif des relations juives et israéliennes (CIJA) est l'agence de représentation de Fédérations juives du Canada - UIA, représentant les fédérations juives à travers le Canada. En cliquant sur  «  Sign up , »  vous acceptez de recevoir des mises à jour périodiques de CIJA. Vous pouvez vous désabonner à tout moment.
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The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA, representing Jewish Federations across Canada.