Toronto (November 4, 2019) – After initially rejecting a pro-Israel student club, the York University student union abruptly changed course and ratified the club on Friday following an aggressive advocacy effort by Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC).
In September, a York undergraduate student submitted an application to the York Federation of Students to create a pro-Israel club, but the application was rejected and the student union was unwilling to give a reason why. In the meantime, an application for an anti-Israel club - which regularly propagates false and antisemitic accusations against Israel in events held across the university - was quickly accepted, ratified and funded by the student union.
In a meeting last month with York University’s President Rhonda Lenton, FSWC asked that her administration stand firm in rejecting antisemitism on campus and specifically raised the issue of the Zionist club denied status by the student union. FSWC followed up with numerous calls, requests and inquiries to senior university administrators expressing concern about the matter. Early last week, FSWC filed a formal request under Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in order to compel York University to turn over documents related to the rejection of the pro-Israel club.
On Friday, the York Federation of Students sent a curt notice to student applicants that the Zionist club was now ratified, with no further explanation offered.
“I remain optimistic that the university administration wants a positive direction, however my concern regarding YFS remains unabated. Given this episode in concert with an unprovoked attack on a Jewish student who was tabling pro-Israel material, the university must aggressively counter antisemitism and integrate FSWC’s tolerance training programs in its administration and the federation of students,” said Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of FSWC.