Israeli university heads say U of Toronto kosher controversy takes ‘theater of absurd to new heights’


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The leaders of Israel’s seven universities are expressing their outrage over the University of Toronto’s Graduate Student Union conflating a kosher food program with support for Israel.

“Just when we thought that we’d seen it all regarding the ascent of anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism on campus, the Graduate Student Union at the University of Toronto (U of T) took this theater of the absurd to new heights by characterizing kosher food as ‘pro-Israel,’” Ron Robin, chairman of the Committee of University Heads of Israel, said in a statement released Tuesday. Robin is president of the University of Haifa.

The Graduate Student Union’s external commissioner, in response to a Jewish student’s request for the union to officially support the Kosher Forward Campaign, suggested that the Executive Committee might be reluctant to advance such a motion to its board of directors. The commissioner said since Hillel is “pro-Israel,” supporting the motion would go against the “will of the membership.”

The union later apologized for “unintentionally caus(ing) harm toward the Jewish community.”

In 2012, the union voted to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement against Israel.

“(T)he classification of kosher food as ‘pro-Israel’ illustrates just how far the BDS movement has come in terms of zeroing in on its actual objective — suppressing the freedom of speech and freedom of religion of Jews, not merely leveling criticism at the State of Israel and its policies,” Robin said.

The committee is made up of the presidents, rectors and directors-general of the Israeli universities.

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