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October 20, 2016 8:59 am

Major Canadian Jewish Groups Express ‘Deep Alarm’ Over Spate of Antisemitic Vandalism at U of Toronto

avatar by Lea Speyer

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University of Toronto campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

University of Toronto campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Major Canadian Jewish groups expressed “deep alarm” over a spate of antisemitic vandalism on and near the University of Toronto (U of T).

Responding to the defacement of seven campus structures over the last two weeks with Nazi imagery, Berl Nadler, co-chair of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), called the swastika a “symbol of violence against Jews and hostility towards Canada’s democratic values.”

“No student, Jewish or otherwise, should be forced to see their campus desecrated in this way,” he said in a statement.

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CEO of Hillel Ontario Marc Newburgh called the appearance of the offensive graffiti a “cowardly attempt at intimidation [that] will not go unchallenged.”

“Jewish students at the University of Toronto have a right to feel safe on campus,” he said in a statement.

Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, said in a statement that the “proliferation of Nazi symbolism at one of Canada’s most respected universities is shocking and outrageous…[and] indicative of the antisemitic climate on many Canadian university campuses that even a controversy which has nothing to do with Jews or Israel has sparked open displays of hatred.” 

The first reports of swastikas on campus  — three on a bus stop and two outside two campus buildings — emerged on the eve of September 30, Rob Nagus, U of T Hillel director, told CJN News

On October 11, mere hours before Yom Kippur — the holiest day in Judaism — Nagus said he received a text message informing him of two additional swastikas on campus. A third was found two days later.

“We at Hillel are very concerned. We are taking it very seriously,” Nagus told CJN News. “We are working hard with our community partners and our partners at the University of Toronto…to make sure this stuff never happens again.”

The U of T Students’ Union (UTSU) also condemned the swastikas, writing on Facebook, “This kind of vandalism has no place on our campus.”

We stand in solidarity with Jewish students, who, like all students, have a right to feel safe on campus. We, as a community, cannot allow that right to be undermined by expressions of hatred,” the UTSU said.

Speaking to CJN News, U of T spokesperson Althea Blackburns-Evans said, “We really want to get to the bottom of this. We’ve moved quickly to remove it and we filed a report with Toronto Police…they are investigating…There haven’t been any witnesses or leads.”

The appearance of swastikas at U of T is part of what is becoming a trend on college campuses across North America. As reported by The Algemeiner, two students at Santa Clara University were recently caught on camera defacing a dorm elevator with a swastika scrawled in human blood.

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