The University of Toronto Still Hasn’t Reckoned with Its Anti-Semitism Problem

Feb. 15 2022

It has been more than two years since the University of Toronto’s president, Meric Gertler, pledged publicly to protect Jewish students from bigotry and harassment. Yet, argue Stuart Kamenetsky and Michael Mostyn, the school has little to show for these promises. They explain:

The University of Toronto was the birthplace of the notorious “Israeli Apartheid Week,” which often ends with calls to dispossess the Jews and destroy the state of Israel. . . . In 2012, its Graduate Student Union (GSU) voted to boycott Israel and, in June 2019, its executive questioned whether GSU would support a student-led drive to provide kosher food on campus since doing so would be “pro-Israel.” (The GSU later apologized).

But it wasn’t only student groups. There was a “Jew count” of Jewish faculty held during a class meeting at the Faculty of Social Work. And then there was the professor who refused to meet a Jewish student based on an absurd allegation that he was an Israeli agent. The list goes on and on.

Finally, in June 2020 the university created a “working group on Anti-Semitism.”

The U of T administration said this group would study anti-Semitism at the university, which we found comparable to the Canadian military investigating its own sexual-misconduct charges. Expert groups that study anti-Semitism such as B’nai Brith were not invited to participate. There were no undergraduate students asked to be in this group, either. The recommendations of the group, when finally released, were weak.

Strangely, the report also recommended the rejection of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Definition of Anti-Semitism, which has been adopted by more than 30 countries and more than 1,000 organizations and universities worldwide, including Canada and Ontario.

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Read more at Toronto Sun

More about: Anti-Semitism, Canada, Canadian Jewry, Israel on campus

 

Iran, America, and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Nov. 23 2022

Sixty-two days after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s police, the regime has failed to quash the protest movement. But it is impossible to know if the tide will turn, and what the outcome of the government’s collapse might be. Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the very real possibility that a democratic Iran will emerge, and considers the aftershocks that might follow. (Free registration required.)

American political and intellectual elites remain uneasy with democracy promotion everywhere primarily because it has failed so far in the Middle East, the epicenter of our attention the last twenty years. (Iraq’s democracy isn’t dead, but it didn’t meet American expectations.) Might our dictatorial exception for Middle Eastern Muslims change if Iran were to set in motion insurrections elsewhere in the Islamic world, in much the same way that America’s response to 9/11 probably helped to produce the rebellions against dictatorship that started in Tunisia in 2010? The failure of the so-called Arab Spring to establish one functioning democracy, the retreat of secular democracy in Turkey, and the implosion of large parts of the Arab world have left many wondering whether Middle Eastern Muslims can sustain representative government.

In 1979 the Islamic revolution shook the Middle East, putting religious militancy into overdrive and tempting Saddam Hussein to unleash his bloodiest war. The collapse of Iran’s theocracy might be similarly seismic. Washington’s dictatorial preference could fade as the contradictions between Arab tyranny and Persian democracy grow.

Washington isn’t yet invested in democracy in Iran. Yet, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has often noted, American hostility toward the Islamic Republic has been damaging. If the theocracy falls, Iranians will surely give America credit—vastly more credit that they will give to the European political class, who have been trying to make nice, and make money, with the clerical regime since the early 1990s—for this lasting enmity. We may well get more credit than we deserve. Both Democrats and Republicans who have dismissed the possibilities of democratic revolutions among the Muslim peoples of the Middle East will still, surely, claim it eagerly.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Arab democracy, Democracy, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy