FSWC Calls for Action After U of T Architecture Student Union Demonizes Israel, Calls for Boycott

May 28, 2021

Media Release

Toronto (May 28, 2021) – Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) is calling on the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design to address complaints from Jewish students and alumni regarding a statement recently posted by the Architecture and Visual Studies Student Union (AVSSU) that demonizes and spreads hateful and false accusations about Israel.

In a statement released on May 22, the AVSSU made false and outrageous allegations of “settler colonialism,” “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing” against Israel, as well as called on U of T “to discontinue all study abroad programs to Israel.” In its one-sided effort to weigh into the Israel-Hamas conflict, the AVSSU failed entirely to mention the fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel and had fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israeli civilians during the recent conflict.

In a letter to the faculty’s interim dean, Robert M. Wright, FSWC Director of Policy Jaime Kirzner-Roberts stated, “The AVSSU’s effort to demonize the Jewish State with false accusations and strategic errors of omission is contributing to antisemitism on campus and is completely unacceptable. The statement is particularly egregious given the dramatic uptick in antisemitic incidents and hate crimes against the Jewish community that have been taking place throughout the Toronto area, and across Canada, over the past month. The AVSSU statement has made an already vulnerable community of Jewish students feel even more unsafe.”

FSWC has urged Wright to step in to address the situation and send a message loud and clear to the AVSSU as well as to the broader community that the administration is committed to creating a safe environment for Jewish students and will work to combat antisemitism at the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.

FSWC is urging the University of Toronto and all other Canadian universities to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, a crucial tool for combatting antisemitism that has been adopted by governments and institutions around the world, including by Canada and Ontario.

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