Brother slams thesis writer for citing grandmother


TORONTO (JTA) — The brother of the author of a thesis accepted by the University of Toronto that calls Holocaust education programs "racist" slammed her for invoking their Holocaust survivor grandmother in her defense.

Jenny Peto, a Jewish activist with the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, attacks in her thesis the March of Remembrance and Hope, through which young adults of diverse backgrounds travel with Holocaust survivors to sites of Nazi atrocities in Poland, and March of the Living Canada, part of an international program that takes young Jews and survivors to Poland and Israel.

Peto argues the programs cause Jews to believe that they are innocent victims. In reality, she writes, they are privileged white people who "cannot see their own racism."

Some professors and Jewish groups have denounced the thesis as biased and academically unsound. The University of Toronto has come under attack for accepting it and awarding the degree. 

In a stinging letter published last week in the National Post newspaper, David Peto of Houston takes his sister to task for dedicating the thesis to their grandmother. In her introduction, Jenny Peto asserted that if her grandmother "were alive today, she would be right there with me protesting against Israeli apartheid."

David Peto pointed that their grandmother, Jolan Peto, was a Holocaust survivor who helped save "countless" children from the Nazis in war-torn Budapest.

Their grandmother "taught us to abhor hatred" and was "an ardent supporter of the state of Israel," he wrote.

He said his sister "is simply wrong; our grandmother would have been entirely opposed to her anti-Israel protests," adding that "I cannot in good conscience allow my sister to misappropriate publicly our grandmother’s memory to suit her political ideology."

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