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December 21, 2016 8:34 am

Ryerson U Israel Activist: Student Leaders ‘Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is’ for Jewish Peers by Passing ‘Holocaust Education Week’ Initiative

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Ryerson University in Toronto. Photo: ryerson.ca.

Ryerson University in Toronto. Photo: ryerson.ca.

Student leaders at Toronto’s Ryerson University “put their money where their mouth is for their Jewish peers” on Monday, a campus activist told The Algemeiner, referring to the passage of a Holocaust education initiative that was recently boycotted by anti-Israel groups. 

Tamar Lyons, a vice president of advocacy group Students Supporting Israel (SSI) and a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow, said that the decision by the school’s student union (RSU) to formally adopt “Holocaust Education Week” — after its attempted derailment earlier this month by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Student Association (MSA) — points to a genuine effort “to ensure that the Jewish minority is properly represented on campus.”

“We are very happy to know that the RSU is taking our concerns seriously and have come to realize that we have not been receiving the proper support,” Lyons said. “The president of the RSU, Obaid Ullah, personally met with us to ask how he could be of assistance.”

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Ullah, Lyons said, also shot down the proposal by anti-Israel activists to change the motion to an “All Genocide Education Week” — in an attempt to downplay the atrocities perpetrated specifically against Jews during the Holocaust — calling it an “inappropriate suggestion.”

Lyons also said that though the demonstration against the apolitical motion caused “great stress” for the Jews on campus,” the incident “really banded together Jewish students and groups, such as Hillel, SSI, StandWithUs Canada and the The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).”

“We are really grateful for the support of these groups, the RSU and the Reyerson administration,” she said.

As The Algemeiner reported in the beginning of December, anti-Israel activists snickered, heckled and then exited en masse from an RSU meeting, held to discuss the Holocaust education initiative. This was a way of preventing the presence of a necessary quorum — a minimum of 100 students — for a vote on or amendment to the resolution. As a result, the RSU forum had to adjourn, and the motion was shelved.

The author of the motion told The Algemeiner at the time that the final version was “very clearly, very carefully worded not [to] include any language about specific religions, ethnicities or places of origin.” Anti-Israel groups and their allies — such as the campus Black Lives Matter movement — “politicized” an initiative that is meant to be “entirely education and uncontroversial,” she said.

A Jewish journalism student present at the original RSU meeting also told The Algemeiner that there is no explanation for what happened, other than “blatant” bigotry. Student groups that usually try to distinguish between anti-Israelism and Jew-hatred “didn’t attempt to sugarcoat or hide their antisemitism.”

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