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March 30, 2017 1:31 pm

Student Union at Ryerson University Adopts Official Definition of Antisemitism, Following ‘Months of Lobbying’ by Pro-Israel Campus Groups

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Ryerson University in Toronto. Photo: ryerson.ca.

Jewish students at Toronto’s Ryerson University told The Algemeiner Wednesday that intense and long-standing lobbying to have their peers adopt an official definition of antisemitism finally paid off.

Rebecca Katzman, president of the school’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI), and Tamar Jaclyn Lyons, the group’s vice president of communications and an Emerson fellow with Israel education group Stand With Us (SWU), said months were spent appealing to the Ryerson Student Union (RSU), after a “shameful” Dec. 2016 mass boycott of a RSU vote on instituting “Holocaust Education Week.” Subsequently, RSU President Obaid Ullah was caught lying about direct involvement in orchestrating the walkout.

“We have been in meetings with every executive of the RSU, and we told them that, to make up for some of the RSU’s actions regarding [the walkout], it was important that they pass Canada’s federal definition of antisemitism,” Katzman said, referring to the Ottawa Protocol, adopted by the Canadian parliament in 2010. The definition includes Holocaust denial, denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination and delegitimizing or applying double standards to Israel.

Katzman said she was “shaking” after the motion — the first of its kind at a Canadian university — was added into the RSU’s anti-oppression glossary late Wednesday night.

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“At Ryerson, and on most North American campuses, there was never the line drawn about what constitutes antisemitism and what does not. Having these clear guidelines in place, the RSU will now have to be held accountable for when any of these antisemitic acts occur on campus,” Katzman said.

The RSU rejected a similar motion in 2014, according to an SSI Facebook statement.

Lyons said that presenting the RSU with an explanation of antisemitism based on one that is accepted on a national scale made the motion easier to explain, because “we didn’t make the definition up.”

Lyons also noted that SWU Canada was the “only organization” to offer the students behind the initiative support and guidance along the way.

Zina Rakhamilova, campus coordinator of SWU Canada, told The Algemeiner that she was proud of the students for their success.

Earlier this month, as The Algemeiner reported, Ryerson terminated a teaching assistant who was exposed for publicly calling to “purify Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of Jews.”

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