Canadian university to probe clashes over Mideast

TORONTO (JTA) — One of Canada’s largest universities says it will probe recent campus clashes relating to the Middle East.

In a move welcomed by Jewish students and communal leaders, York University announced Monday that it will form a task force "to review concerns about the student environment" on campus.

Jewish students have complained of a toxic atmosphere on campus arising from Israel’s recent military incursion in the Gaza Strip.

On Feb. 11, about 100 anti-Israel protesters barricaded Jewish students in a Hillel lounge and shouted anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slurs. Police were forced to escort Jewish students from the lounge to ensure their safety.

Other anti-Semitic incidents, including graffiti and verbal attacks, continue to be reported on campus.

"Recent events on campus have raised serious concerns over whether our most cherished values and commitments are being undermined by excessive conflict, intolerance and even intimidation," said the task force’s terms of reference, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported.

"We are pleased that the university has taken into account the deep concerns expressed by our community," said David Koschitzky, chair of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.

"We will lend support to this task force with the expectation that it will lead to a campus that respects civil discourse and the fair enforcement of the rules," said Daniel Ferman, president of Hillel@York.

"We also urge the York administration to address the immediate safety concerns affecting Jewish students on campus prior to the Aug. 31 deadline of this task force," he said.

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