Toronto City Councillor James Pasternak, Ward 6, York Centre, is concerned by the growing anti-Israel atmosphere at the University of Toronto. This includes a planned speech by anti-Israel professor Norman Finkelstein at the university on March 5, 2019 and a recent vote by the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union on February 27, 2019 to support the ratification of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee as an anti-Israel standing committee.
“While freedom of expression is a crucial Canadian value, targeting a group through demonization has no place at the University of Toronto. It is greatly concerning to see those expousing unfounded and ignorant attacks on the State of Israel finding a home at one of Canada’s most prestigious places of learning,” said Councillor Pasternak.
Mr. Finkelstein’s speech is being presented by the Association of Palestinian Students. He is perhaps most well-known for a book that make the repulsive argument that Jewish people exploit the memory of the Holocaust for political and financial gain. The book has been criticized for including false allegations and misleading claims.
This speech is happening just as the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union voted to ratify the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Committee as a standing committee. The committee’s stated purpose will be to support and promote the anti-Semitic BDS movement against Israel, including through Israeli Apartheid Week events at the university. It is an offensive and repugnant discourse that uses the suffering under the old apartheid regime in South Africa to demonize the state of Israel and its supporters.
“The anti-Israel obsession is driven by ignorance and a lack of understanding of the politics on the ground. It is deeply disturbing to see such attitudes at the University of Toronto and I hope leadership at the school will take action and not enable this movement,” said Councillor Pasternak.