December 7, 2021
Dear Trustees of the Toronto District School Board,
We at Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center are writing to you today to urge you to reject the outrageous conclusion drawn by the TDSB Integrity Commissioner that your colleague Alexandra Lulka engaged in discrimination by calling out a number of antisemitic materials sent to teachers by a TDSB staffer.
Some of the materials in question contained antisemitic tropes and glorifying references to terrorists and terrorist acts targeting Jews. In a tweet responding to these materials, Trustee Lulka wrote, “I was outraged to discover that some of this material justifies suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism. This is reprehensible.” It was on the basis of these words that the Commissioner found Lulka was in breach of Section 6.10 of the TDSB Code of Conduct, noting in her report that by criticizing some of the materials, Lulka failed to acknowledge positive aspects of the content and therefore was deserving of censure. This absurd conclusion becomes even more preposterous given that the Commissioner quoted a report by the TDSB’s Human Rights Office that affirmed the materials did contain antisemitic content, and that in fact “some of the materials contained in the links support the use of violence and terrorism against Israeli Jews.”
We remain alarmed by the fact that Trustee Lulka has become the target of an investigation and possible censure for criticizing antisemitic materials circulated within the TDSB when the staff member responsible for disseminating those materials has faced no consequences whatsoever. As you may be aware, the Jewish community is the leading target of hate-motivated crime in Toronto, and several antisemitic incidents per week have been recorded in TDSB schools since September. At this moment of rising Jew-hatred in Canada, the impact of this flawed process and investigation will only embolden perpetrators of antisemitism while making those who wish to confront antisemitism fearful of doing so. This is absolutely unacceptable.
We are hopeful that the TDSB will embark on a new strategy to confront institutional antisemitism within the board so that no one ever again will have to defend their right to call out Jew-hatred. In the meantime, we call on you as leaders to boldly reject the call for censure of your colleague and send the message that double standards at the TDSB will no longer be tolerated.
Director of Policy
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center