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April 1, 2021 9:07 am

Canadian Jewish Students Call on Universities to Adopt Antisemitism Definition

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University College, University of Toronto. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. – More than 140 Jewish students have signed an open letter calling on Canadian post-secondary institutions to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

It would “help administrators better identify and meaningfully combat” antisemitism on campus, read the letter, listing incidents at the University of Toronto, McGill University and Queen’s University.

“As students involved in the Jewish community on campus, we can corroborate that antisemitism has found an all-too comfortable home at Canadian universities. Using the IHRA definition would help administrators establish when more insidious forms of antisemitism are taking place,” according to the letter.

The global definition was adopted as part of the Canadian government’s anti-racism strategy in 2019. It has since been endorsed by Ontario’s provincial government, the University of Manitoba and University of Western student unions, the Global Imams Council and other bodies.

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Student signatories to the letter hail from across the country, with 25-plus academic institutions represented, including the University of New Brunswick, Concordia University, the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and Wilfrid Laurier University.

It was co-written by Tiphaera Ziner-Cohen, a University of Windsor law student, along with UBC student Sagiv Fadid, University of Ottawa law student Ysabella Hazan and others.

“We started this letter so victims of antisemitism on campus know they are not alone,” said Ziner-Cohen. “University administrators continue to avoid incidents of antisemitism on campus because they clearly do not have the tools to respond. By adopting the IHRA definition, they would be able to both identify and condemn anti-Jewish bigotry wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head.”

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