CUPE on the hot seat again for targeting Jewish group at York U

February 12, 2024


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Universities, our supposed bastions of knowledge and enlightenment, have become breeding grounds of anti-Jewish hate. Sadly, the problem has existed for many years, but it’s taken on an alarming new dimension in recent months as Jewish students face increased hostility on campus. This has included tacit endorsements of Hamas and its atrocities in Israel on Oct. 7, the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.

Last month, Toronto’s York University had to confront a new controversy involving Jewish students targeted in an anti-Israel action. It began when the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3903, which represents contract and part-time faculty at York, called on all teaching assistants to engage in anti-Israel teachings during regularly planned lessons.

The union local issued a pamphlet, titled “Toolkit on Teaching Palestine,” instructing teaching assistants (TAs) “to collectively divert” tutorials “to teaching on Palestinian liberation,” from Jan. 21 to 28, despite having no relevance to most courses being studied or to the expertise of most TAs.

The blatantly biased “tool kit” vilifies Israel with highly distorted, incendiary claims and reads like a political manifesto. It presents a series of resources and an example of how to present the topic in class, including declaring an interest in “ending Canada’s and York’s complicity with genocide and the settler-colonial occupation of Palestinian land and life.”

Most disturbingly, the 15-page document demonizes pro-Israel Jewish groups, singling out the student organization Hillel, stating York is complicit in “Israel’s occupation of Palestine” through its “economic and academic relationships with various Zionist cultural institutions (e.g. Hillel) and Israeli universities …”

For the past 100 years, Hillel has served as an on-campus home away from home for Jewish students in many countries, also advocating on their behalf. In a public statement, its Ontario branch said, “At a time, when Jewish students on campuses across Ontario are reporting antisemitism at a rate of three times that of the previous year, CUPE’s targeting of Hillel is both shameful and dangerous.”

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