Toronto (November 15, 2021) – Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) is calling on the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) to address the increasingly hostile environment, rife with antisemitism, it has allowed to fester for Jewish staff and students. This follows a recent incident involving the TDSB.
FSWC wrote a letter to TDSB Director of Education Colleen Russell-Rawlins and other TDSB officials yesterday after students staged a walkout at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute on Friday to demonstrate against Israel. Chanting anti-Israel slogans, they held up a large sign bearing the words “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” – a highly charged phrase calling for the destruction of Israel and the expulsion and murder of the Jewish people – with the support of school staff who amplified the walkout on social media.
In the letter, FSWC called on Russell-Rawlins to provide a plan of action to reassure families in our city that the TDSB is committed to upholding the rights of Jews in the TDSB system (staff, students and parents) to not be subjected to hateful propaganda while at school.
FSWC has requested a meeting with the TDSB Director of Education to discuss bringing education programs on antisemitism to teachers and students at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute and other schools in Toronto.
“It’s time the TDSB step up and take responsibility for allowing such a toxic environment to fester through its inaction on previous incidents of antisemitism, creating an atmosphere in which lashing out against the Jewish community is acceptable and Jewish staff and students are left feeling attacked and voiceless,” said Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, Director of Policy at FSWC. “Tragically, hateful rhetoric targeting Israel and the Jewish people has become normalized at the TDSB and is influencing students, many of whom do not understand the negative impact of these words nor the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There must be opportunities to hear both Israeli and Palestinian perspectives and have the complex discussions essential to advancing peace. The student walkout that took place on Friday saw neither.”
“The TDSB has the opportunity now to bring education programs on antisemitism that would have a positive impact on staff and students and bridge the divides. We are hopeful they take us up on the offer,” Kirzner-Roberts added.