FSWC Calls on Canadian Government to Address Alarming Rise in Antisemitism on University Campuses

October 31, 2023

News Release

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Toronto (October 31, 2023) – Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) is calling on Public Safety Canada and Canadian Heritage to convene an emergency task force to tackle growing and increasingly toxic antisemitism on university campuses and ensure the safety of Jewish students and staff.

In a letter to Minister of Public Safety Dominic LeBlanc and Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities Kamal Khera, FSWC said it is “fielding daily reports of antisemitic rhetoric and actions taking place on campus, coming from both faculty and students alike,” adding that “Jewish staff and students are feeling unsafe and unwanted on their own campuses, where heated confrontations and hateful speech have become the norm.”

Yesterday, in response to a similar phenomenon in the United States, the White House announced a series of actions it’s taking to combat the dramatic increase in antisemitic incidents on American college campuses since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

This month, student unions at many Canadian universities issued particularly incendiary statements defending, even condoning, the mass slaughter of more than 1,400 Israelis by Hamas terrorists on October 7, the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.

FSWC has proposed to Ministers LeBlanc and Khera that the federal government convene an Emergency Task Force for On-Campus Antisemitism, composed of relevant provincial ministers, Jewish community leaders, Deborah Lyons, the Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism, and senior officials from Canada's leading universities and colleges.

“As Jewish students and faculty members are being increasingly targeted and feeling threatened and unsafe more than ever before, now is the time for the Canadian government to step up and play a leadership role in addressing this critical issue,” said FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt. “Just as we have seen hateful rhetoric and threats against Jewish people erupt on city streets in Canada and around the world, we are seeing this situation play out on university campuses. It's imperative for the federal government to bring together its provincial counterparts, Jewish community leaders and administrations at Canadian post-secondary institutions to work on a plan to address the scourge of rising antisemitism and ensure that Canada’s universities and colleges are a safe space for faculty and students alike.”