FSWC Commends York University for Taking Important Steps in Addressing Antisemitism on Campus

June 4, 2020

Media Release

Toronto (June 4, 2020) - Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) commends York University for committing to a number of new policy changes this week in response to an independent external investigation following the violent antisemitic protest that took place on campus on November 20, 2019. FSWC had urged York University to undertake such an investigation in order to address the antisemitism that continues to plague the University.

The report outlining the results of the external investigation, which was directed by former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell and released to the public this week, included a series of recommendations that York administration has vowed to implement in order to prevent the reoccurrence of the incident that happened in November. New changes that York has committed to include mandatory distancing measures at events to safely separate protesters from event-goers, improved security procedures for controversial campus events, and sanctions for student groups that organize protests or other events which do not conform to security protocols.

While FSWC is pleased by the new policy changes adopted by York, it urges University administration to aggressively monitor and discipline groups that are in violation of the new guidelines and who promote a hostile and antisemitic environment for Jewish students on campus. 

 “We applaud York for taking on such a serious and probative investigation into the violent clash of November 20 and for its willingness to make changes to its policies and procedures to ensure nothing of the sort ever happens again,” said FSWC Chairman Fred Waks. “We see these commitments as important and necessary first steps in addressing antisemitism on York’s campus and we look forward to dialoguing with the University administration as the recommendations are implemented and further changes are made to safeguard the security and rights of Jewish students. It is of fundamental importance that all students at York feel safe and secure.”

In February, FSWC delivered a 50-page submission to Justice Cromwell’s investigative team outlining the history of antisemitism at York University and the ongoing failure of the University administration to address the issue, providing testimonies from York students and faculty, and offering critical recommendations for combating antisemitism at York. The submission highlighted the ongoing role played by the York Federation of Students (YFS) in promoting antisemitic propaganda throughout the campus, including posters of Israelis strangling Palestinian children and the infamous mural hanging in the York Student Center depicting a Palestinian throwing a rock. YFS was one of the organizers of the violent protest on November 20th, and has since vowed to organize similar mobilizations in response to pro-Israel “imperialists” on campus. YFS declined the invitation to participate in Justice Cromwell’s investigation.

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