University of Toronto Student Union Reverses Decision, Again Endorses ‘One-Sided’ Letter Calling for End of Israel Trips
A Jewish student group at the University of Toronto said Wednesday it was “deeply disappointed” in the school’s student union, following news that it had again voted to sign an open letter accusing Israel of “genocide” and demanding the cancellation of trips to Israel.
The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) July 25 decision, reported Sunday by campus newspaper The Varsity, reversed a prior vote to abandon its endorsement of the controversial letter, which came after criticism that it alienated Jewish and Israeli students on campus.
Rob Nagus, Director of Hillel at University of Toronto, told The Algemeiner Wednesday that the organization was “deeply disappointed by the UTSU’s decision to endorse such a one-sided letter.”
“The UTSU has a responsibility to support all students on campus, including the many Jewish students who feel entirely unrepresented by the union’s position,” he said. “Canada’s Jewish community is the most frequently targeted religious minority in the country, and especially those on campus, have experienced an alarming increase in vile vitriol in recent months.”
“As the school year quickly approaches, we call on the UTSU and the university administration to take immediate steps to ensure Jewish students are heard and represented at the University of Toronto.”
At the July 25 meeting, UTSU President Alexa Ballis defended the original signing of the “Open Letter to the University of Toronto Administration to Condemn the Palestinian Genocide” in June. She said that too few Palestinian students were apprised of UTSU’s vote to un-sign it — creating, she said, a “hostile environment in which students may not have felt they could vote how they wanted to.”
After the Muslim Students Association first asked UTSU to sign the “Open Letter” in June, one board member counseled against it during a meeting, according to The Varsity, citing its singling out of Israel for criticism and use of the terms “apartheid,” “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing.”
The letter charged the university with being “complicit in the face of oppression and systematic change,” and demanded that the administration condemn Israel and discontinue a summer program in Israel, “Coexistence in the Middle East Study Abroad,” run by the Munk School of Global Affairs.