B’nai Brith slams York report on student life


(JTA) — A Canadian university’s task force report fails to address the real issue of anti-Semitism, a Jewish group claims.

B’nai Brith Canada in a news release said the report by York University’s Task Force on Student Life, Learning & Community "attempts to address issues such as enforcement of university rules, sponsorship of educational events, and attentiveness to student security without once mentioning real issues such as anti-Semitism."

The university established the task force in the spring after a series of incidents on campus in which students clashed over racist and anti-Semitic manifestations. Its report was made public last week.

York University has been the scene of much anti-Jewish and anti-Israel activity over the past few years. Earlier this year, some Jewish students were barricaded in the Hillel lounge by a mob yelling anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slurs. Police had to escort the students out of the building. Two students were reprimanded for the incident.

The university’s top priority, the report said, should be to carve out more student space for studying and socializing. It said the decreasing space and increasing student body was causing such clashes. 

 “York has really missed the forest for the trees with these recommendations,” said Frank Dimant, executive vice president of B’nai Brith Canada. “How can a report that fails to even once mention anti-Semitism expect to address the growing levels of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity at York?"

The report also said that "Controversy and debate is natural and inevitable on a university campus."

“The recommendations in the task force’s report, while being so focused on free speech, are completely skirting the fact that the campus has become a breeding ground for anti-Israel propaganda of the worst kind,” Dimant said.  

A Jewish communal commission report on the university released in June said there has been "intimidation, harassment, ridicule and virulent anti-Israel sentiment" at York, one of Canada’s largest universities.

Its recommendations, which included prohibiting professors from expressing personal political views unrelated to the course they teach and establishing a confidential hotline for students to report "abuse of the podium" incidents, were submitted to the university’s task force.

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