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Jewish MP Calls on University Presidents to Address Antisemitism on Campus

The antisemitism on university campuses has seen a well-documented sharp ‘up-tick’ over the last couple of months since the Oct. 7th massacre by HAMAS led to a new Israeli-Gaza War. Recently, controversial testimony from an American Congressional hearing, regarding the safety of Jewish students, with 3 of their country’s top University presidents went viral. Many Jews called it offensive, and several prominent Jewish alumni and donors have pulled funding. 

So, on December 13, 2023, Ben Car (the Jewish Liberal MP for Winnipeg South Centre) and four other Liberal MPs (Montreal MP Anthony Housefather, Former Justice Minister David Lametti & Anna Gainey, former Ontario Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino) published a letter that they had signed and sent to the presidents of Canada’s 25 biggest Universities, calling on them to address antisemitism on campus. 

The letter, citing the recent Congressional testimony made by the Presidents of the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, and MIT, decries the poor responses given. The MPs described the presidents as having “embarrassed themselves and their institutions by being unable to confirm that the call for the genocide against the Jewish people would violate their university’s code of conduct.” 

Evidently, since the hearing University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill bowed to the overwhelming pressure and resigned, following the media fallout of her catastrophic testimony.

Furthermore, the university presidents testified to the American Congressional Committee that the call for the genocide of Jews would only violate the university’s code of conduct depending on the quote, “context.” The MPs disagree, saying that: “the call to eradicate an identifiable group constitutes harassment, intimidation and incites hatred, and merits the strongest disciplinary measures available to a university.”  The Letter continues and calls on Canadian university presidents to respond.

The letter also discusses the increasingly difficult campus life for Jewish students and says that there has been a “lack of action by university leadership to protect Jewish students.” The letter goes on to describe what the MPs see as a series of “entirely unacceptable” events on campus: “We have heard from students who say they are being harassed by fellow students… protesters on campus who are calling for the elimination of the world’s only majority Jewish state… student newspapers are refusing to run articles from contributors that support Israel… Jewish students who are afraid to go to campus or certain classes.” Such a plethora of documented incidents against Jewish students demonstrate how Canadian educational institutions are failing their students. So, the letter ends with a final request, for Canadian university presidents to answer, a series of questions that these Members of Parliament “intend to table with a Committee of the House of Commmons.”

  • Is a call for genocide against the Jewish people, or the elimination of the State of Israel, a violation of your university’s code of conduct?
  • What additional steps have you taken to protect Jewish students on your campus since October 7?
  • Will you commit to review your existing code of conduct to ensure that proper policies are in place to deal with antisemitism on campus?
  • Will you commit to ensure that student associations, school newspapers, and groups recognized by the university have proper measures in place to prevent them from becoming hostile environments for your Jewish students? 
  • Will you be taking steps to also ensure that your Jewish faculty members and staff feel safe on campus?

The MPs who signed the letter requested that the universities’ responses be provided no later than January 20th 2024. Although it is yet to be seen what effect it will have, the letter came this Thursday as a silver lining to what was ultimately a bad day for Jewish Canadians, as this week the community witnessed the shameful action of Canada joining 152 other countries in voting for a UN resolution which called for an immediate Israeli ceasefire without denouncing HAMAS. 

About the Author
I did my BA at Mount Allison University in Canada, studying History & Political Science. Thereafter, I began to pursue a degree in Journalism but took a hiatus from school to accept numerous job offers. I got my start in writing working for ERETZ: the Magazine of Israel in Tel Aviv, Israel. From my homeland Canada I have been published by both the National Post, and Jewish Post & News. The paper I currently write for and help publish is The Jewish Post -the successor to the now defunct paper: The Jewish Post & News. As a researcher and writer, I believe that applying historical context along with an in-depth knowledge of regional identity and political ideologies is the best way to identify and explain current geopolitical trends as well as forecast growing tension and unrest in future areas of conflicts -militarily, politically, and economically.
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