Defending Our Future. Protecting Our Past.
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Defending Our Future. Protecting Our Past.
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Student Bill of Rights:
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world;
Whereas Everyone has the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness;
Whereas global human rights conventions dictate that everyone has an inherent dignity as part of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family to live free of indignation;
Whereas Jewish students on university campuses and colleges have been victimized by antisemitism, racism and discrimination by virtue of either their religious, ideological and political affiliations or by their self-identity as being Jewish;
Whereas recent studies and surveys have revealed that the majority of Jewish students on university and college campuses have experienced antisemitism;
Whereas historically, antisemitism has resulted in extreme violence and genocide. Disregard and contempt for historical degradation and violence against the Jewish people, such as antisemitism, boycotts and genocide is harmful to the well-being of humanity;
Whereas all human beings have a right under international convention to enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want and this has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of humanity, as dictated by the international community;
Whereas the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) has created a working definition of antisemitism and proclaimed that “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities”;
Whereas IHRA provides examples of manifestations of antisemitism which “might include the targeting of the State of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits”;
Whereas Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty;
Whereas universities, colleges and public institutions have an obligation under their own mandate to preserve, protect and defend the rights of students and faculty to function freely and without intimidation or feeling of victimization. The onus is on these institutions to prove that they are acting according to international and national human rights conventions;
Whereas as stated in universal convention, education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups;
Whereas Antisemitism and hatred of the Jewish people is manifesting on campuses universally and is a detriment to the welfare of and wellbeing of Jewish and non-Jewish students who believe in the existence of the State of Israel and advocate for such;
Be it resolved that universities, colleges and public institutions must act accordingly and with haste to defend and protect students against antisemitism, hate and discrimination. That the onus and responsibility is on these institutions to act accordingly to stop events and functions that promote discrimination against the Jewish people and their friends and advocates. We hereby hold these institutions accountable for any and all acts that go against national and international conventions that are set forth to protect and defend students.
By signing this declaration, I hereby stand with Jewish and pro-Israel students on university and college campuses. I declare that they are not alone and that they have every right to self-expression under the protection of universal and national legal conventions. I will neither tolerate nor will I accept the rising tide of antisemitism nor will I stay silent in this regard.
The Abraham Global Peace Initiative Issues Statement Regarding University of Toronto’s ‘entrustment of Antisemitism Working Report’. This week, AGPI released its first annual report on Antisemitism on University Campuses in Canada. It found at minimum more than 100 reported Antisemitic incidents on university campuses. Among them, the report flagged the University of Toronto for a number of incidents.
02/16/22: Following the University of Toronto (U of T)'s release of a video to “mark the entrustment of the Antisemitism Working Group’s final report”, The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI) issued the following statement urging the adoption of the IHRA working definition of Antisemitism:
“AGPI notes with caution that U of T’s leadership is demonstrating 'commitment to tackling Antisemitism in all its forms.' The organization also notes President Meric Gertler’s statement that the university is 'profoundly opposed to Antisemitism, which remains an unwelcome source of discrimination, harassment, and violence in our society, and a threat to free societies everywhere.'
“While the administration has been trying to confront Antisemitism at U of T for two decades, it has not succeeded because it repeatedly does not confront the issue head-on. We strongly recommend the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of Antisemitism,” said Avi Benlolo, AGPI’s Founder and Chairman. “We further reject any notion that freedom of speech is impacted in any way by vigorously standing up to Antisemitism. In fact, the adoption of the IHRA definition has become an international litmus test to combating Antisemitism."
According to U of T Professor Aurel Braun: “The fact that U of T continues to reject the adoption of the IHRA working definition of Antisemitism, when so many governments and hundreds of universities have adopted it worldwide, is deeply disappointing." Professor Braun also sits on AGPI’s National Advisory Board. As noted in AGPI’s statement in December, U of T’s refusal to adopt any of the definitions of Antisemitism that have recently been proposed, including the non-legally-binding working definition proposed by the IHRA, reduces the ability of the university to adequately combat Antisemitism. To date, 35 countries have signed onto the IHRA definition with an additional nine observer nations also committed to the definition. Partner organizations to the convention include highly reputable international organizations such as the United Nations, UNESCO, OSCE/ODIHR, European Agency for Fundamental Rights, the European Union, and the Council of Europe. In the United States, hundreds of universities have adopted the IHRA.
In fact, the Office for Students in the United Kingdom further reports that 200 universities, colleges, and providers of higher education have adopted the IHRA definition (95 are universities; among them some of the most prestigious). Contrary to the University of Toronto perspective, this number has climbed from just 28 in 2020 whereby universities recognize the definition is indeed designed for use in the university context.
At Oxford University, for instance, its official statement on the matter is: “Oxford University aims to ensure that all students, whatever their background, have a fulfilling experience of higher education. To support us in our work, we have adopted (reflecting the position of the Office for Students) the IHRA definition of Antisemitism as a guide to interpreting and understanding Antisemitism, noting the clarifications recommended by the Home Affairs Select Committee. The IHRA definition does not affect the legal definition of racial discrimination, so does not change our approach to meeting our legal duties and responsibilities, including the University’s commitment to uphold freedom of speech." https://edu.admin.ox.ac.uk/antisemitism AGPI’s campus report can be found here: https://agpiworld.com/campus
Toronto – 12/09/21: In a statement today concerning the University of Toronto President’s “response to the report of the Antisemitism Working Group," The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI) rejects the university’s refusal to “adopt any of the definitions of Antisemitism that have recently been proposed." Among those rejected by the working group is the non-legally-binding working definition proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) – which is backed by AGPI.
To date, 35 countries have signed onto the IHRA definition with an additional nine observer nations also committed to the definition. Partner organizations to the convention include highly reputable international organizations such as the United Nations, UNESCO, OSCE/ODIHR, European Agency for Fundamental Rights, the European Union, and the Council of Europe. In the United States, over 30 universities have adopted the IHRA definition including City College of New York, Arizona State, Penn State, California State, Stanford, Notre Dame, and Northeastern, among others.
In the United Kingdom, dozens of universities have adopted the IHRA definition of Antisemitism, including one of the world’s most reputable and noteworthy academic institutions, Oxford University. On its website, Oxford states the following:
“Oxford University aims to ensure that all students, whatever their background, have a fulfilling experience of higher education. To support us in our work, we have adopted (reflecting the position of the Office for Students) the IHRA definition of Antisemitism as a guide to interpreting and understanding Antisemitism, noting the clarifications recommended by the Home Affairs Select Committee. The IHRA definition does not affect the legal definition of racial discrimination, so does not change our approach to meeting our legal duties and responsibilities, including the University’s commitment to uphold freedom of speech." https://edu.admin.ox.ac.uk/antisemitism
Thus, Oxford University rejects the contention that the IHRA definition impedes free speech. While the University of Toronto claims that “the various proposed definitions [which include IHRA] were not designed for use in a university context” the fact that the definition has been adopted by numerous universities around the world proves otherwise and is contrary to this contention.
The Office for Students in the United Kingdom further reports that 200 universities, colleges and higher education providers have adopted the IHRA definition (95 are universities among them some of the most prestigious). Contrary to the University of Toronto perspective, this number has climbed from just 28 in 2020 whereby universities recognize the definition is indeed designed for use in the university context.
Professor Aurel Braun, who sits on AGPI’s National Board of Advisors and is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, was disappointed in both the working group’s report and the university’s reaction to it. In a statement to AGPI he said: “Sadly, both the report of the working group and the response of the university are greatly inadequate in light of the grave and urgent threat of Antisemitism on campuses. The adoption of the IHRA definition is a first step in seriously fighting Antisemitism and this is why most democratic governments and hundreds of universities worldwide have adopted the definition. Further, nowhere has the university outlined what consequences there would be for engaging in Antisemitic acts on campus."
AGPI’s Founder and Chairman, Avi Abraham Benlolo, said: “Most universities have rightly commented that the adoption of the IHRA working definition is an important tool in understanding and countering Antisemitism. Given the horrendous rise of Antisemitism at the University of Toronto in recent weeks and in combination with annual events such as the infamous “Israeli Apartheid Week” – founded at this university -- this report is yet another stain on the university’s handling of Antisemitism. There was a real opportunity here to address Antisemitism vigorously and protect and defend Jewish students and faculty members. The Jewish community is very disappointed, yet no longer surprised by what it sees as a double standard at the university."
Through its international network, AGPI recognizes uniformity among leading Jewish organizations in adopting the IHRA definition as the gold standard. Contrary to some of the language used in the University of Toronto report, there is insignificant divisiveness amongst the international Jewish community about its usage. Today, it is the most accepted framework in leading Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and governments.
ABOUT: The Abraham Global Peace Initiative is comprised of leading Canadians from all faiths, as well as an international advisory group who are, together, advocating for human rights. The organization counters Antisemitism, hate and discrimination, defends Israel, freedom, and democracy, counters Holocaust distortion, and stands for universal rights and freedoms.
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