Sunday, June 04, 2017

Antisemitism at a Canadian university

We’ve written before about Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada in connection to BDS and virulently anti-Israel activism crossing over into flagrant antisemitism and creating a toxic environment for Jews

Now, a new disturbing story has surfaced at Ryerson. But this time it involves anti-Israel, pro-BDS faculty there allegedly behaving badly toward a Jewish undergraduate student.

At issue are a series of conversations, conducted primarily over email, between a Jewish undergraduate student majoring in the field of Social Work—Rebecca Katzman (22)—and faculty affiliated with this school at Ryerson.

According to the exchanges reported in The Toronto Sun, all of which occurred in August and September of 2015, Katzman was discouraged (and eventually, effectively prevented) from pursuing her third-year placement (a type of required internship) at a respected Toronto Jewish organization—the Prosserman Jewish Community Centre (JCC) or the United Jewish Appeal (UJA).

Both organizations have strong “track records” in addressing social justice issues, so Katzman had assumed that there’d be no problem getting her placement request for either one of these agencies approved.

She thought wrongly.

According to Sue-Ann Levy, who broke the story on Sunday May 28 in a lead cover for the Toronto Sun, Katzman “wasn’t prepared in the slightest for what happened” with Heather Bain, the School of Social Work’s Field Education Coordinator, when she approached her with the JCC and UJA placement request.

Levy reports for the Toronto Sun:

After making it clear to Bain about her preferred placement, Katzman said the field coordinator advised her in an e-mail in late August of 2015 she did not follow up with the JCC or UJA because their values appeared to be ‘in opposition’ to the values of the School of Social Work.

Bain listed those values as the advancement of anti-oppression; anti-racism; anti-colonialism and decolonization; feminism; anti-capitalism; Queer and trans liberation struggles; issues in disability and madness (cct); among others (many of which are not listed on the school’s own website.)

‘My understanding is both agencies have a strong anti-Palestinian lean,’ Bain continued, suggesting that if Katzman agreed to bring a ‘critical awareness’ (of Palestinian solidarity movements) to either agency she might reconsider.”

Most students faced with that kind of faculty pushback would have let the matter drop.

But Rebecca Katzman is not like most students. This gutsy young lady doggedly pursued the issue, determined to get to the bottom of Bain’s contention that Toronto’s JCC and UJA stand against social justice values.

So she wrote another follow-up email to Bain.

She specifically asked the field education coordinator how she came to her conclusions, since the JCC and UJA “websites do not indicate any anti-Palestinian policies in the slightest.”

On August 25, 2015 in a lengthy email, Bain told Katzman that she decided not to pursue the JCC and UJA agency placements after consulting with some Jewish colleagues affiliated with “Jews Against Israeli Apartheid movements.”

As noted in the Toronto Sun article, with encouragement from the pro-Israel campus organization StandWithUs, Katzman proceeded to book a meeting with then-Ryerson president Sheldon Levy to discuss the issue.

She indicated doing so in an email to Bain on September 4. The email (LI was provided with a copy) is brilliant.

In it, Katzman boldly asks to see a list of other agencies that were rejected from the Social Work program on account of their being opposed to the school’s values. She bluntly calls out Bain’s “wild accusations” about the JCC and UJA being anti-Palestinian and requests a list of those colleagues who were involved in making that determination “without any evidence.”

She also mentions that Bain would be “wise to inform” these colleagues that:

"to call Israel an Apartheid state is academically dishonest and is not only an insult to the only democratic state in the Middle East, but is even more insulting to people who are Black in South Africa. Israel is a multiethnic, multiracial state with freedom of religion and civil rights for all its citizens. Israel has 15 sanctioned religions and a 20% Arab minority that have equal rights and protections as in any democracy. Israeli Arabs have five political parties and holds seats in the Israeli Parliament.”

Katzman closes this withering email by noting the “incredible social service work” that the JCC and UJA do for Jews and non-Jews who are “struggling” in Toronto, including children, immigrants, and the poor:

I didn’t realize that the relevance of all of these social services were conditional on whether or not the agencies were involved in Palestine solidarity movements. Do you mind directing me to WHERE it is stated on the social work website that being involved in an agency was conditional to solidarity with the Palestinian movement? (A copy and pasted link would be fine please).”

It’s a superb closing to a blistering missive. But the clincher was no doubt mentioning in the last line that she’d informed the JCC and UJA—and had set up an appointment with President Levy.

That’s when Kristie Wright—Bain’s boss—herself wrote back indicating that “misinformed information” had been provided to her. Bain also responded by noting that the school doesn’t in fact require that agencies “align with Palestinian solidarity movements” in order for them to be considered as placement partners.

Michael Forbes, Ryerson’s group director of communications, did get back to Levy though. He reportedly insisted in an email last Friday that the School of Social Work took a “quick, thorough and responsive action on this matter”, claiming too that Bain apologized immediately and corrected the information.

He also states that Ryerson is “proud of its strong history” of placing students in a diverse range of institutions, including the Prosserman JCC.

But Forbes reportedly “refused to say” whether Bain was disciplined and his sense of the timeline doesn’t jive with the email trail: according to the emails, Katzman only received an apology on September 9—two weeks after her initial email to Bain and only after she had mentioned setting up a meeting with the university’s President.


Antisemitism at Cambridge university, England

On October 28 last year two Jewish students accidentally entered a closed party at the Grad Union bar. This event was hosted by Christ’s college’s two largest drinking societies: the Hippolytans and the Marguerites. One of the victims stated: “We heard shouting and were literally grabbed and pulled out of the building by about seven large, intimidating males.”

The perpetrators subsequently shouted vitriolic anti-Semitic slurs at the victims: ‘f***ing Jew, you don’t belong here’, ‘dirty Jew’ and ‘f*** off darkie’.

Even more problematic however is Christ’s college’s response to the incident. On November 18 Shlomo Roiter-Jesner (HSPS, Hughes Hall), the only victim willing to identify himself received an email from Prof. Stapleton. This email read as follows: “The internal disciplinary process of the tutors is now concluded and two students have been disciplined. Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.”

Later however it was revealed that these two students were disciplined only for ‘using foul language and participating in a scuffle’. They were not however held to account for the anti-semitic dimension of the incident. However Prof. Stapleton claimed: “I reject categorically that Christ’s has engaged in a cover-up on this matter.”

Prof. Stapleton has now admitted the college was in the wrong

According to a public statement on behalf of Christ’s: the college’s failures are myriad. Firstly, the college could not identify a culprit for the anti-Semitic attacks and so couldn’t bring any student to justice. Secondly, because a culprit could not be found they did not even entertain the possibility that anti-Semitic abuse occurred. Finally, Christ’s did not invite any of the victims to be interviewed about the incident.

In the wake of this criticism, Christ’s has taken significant steps to neutralise the situation. The college have accepted that there was indeed anti-Semitic abuse and so have banned their drinking societies from hosting events out of college until October 2019 or till someone admits to the abuse.

Mr Roiter-Jesner told The Telegraph: “We are satisfied that Christ’s is now comfortable giving credence to our story, admitting that anti-Semitic conduct occurred and taking decisive steps to improve their disciplinary system.”

It is encouraging that Christ’s has started to take this matter seriously but this incident also has seriously concerning undertones.


Judicial Watch Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Review California In-State Tuition Benefits for Illegal Aliens

Judicial Watch announced it filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court over a California Court of Appeals decision allowing the University of California's to provide of $27.1 million in taxpayer funds for non-resident tuition and financial aid to illegal aliens. The petition was filed on May 23, 2017, behalf of Earl De Vries, a legal resident and taxpayer of California (Earl De Vries vs. Regents of the University of California (No. BC555614))).

Judicial Watch argues that federal immigration law requires that a state law providing benefits to illegal aliens must "affirmatively" provide for such eligibility. In 2011 the California State Legislature passed and Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill giving illegal immigrant college students access to state-funded financial aid.  Under the California Constitution, however, the UC Board of Regents is "entirely independent" of the state legislature in policy matters, so there is no lawful way for the California legislature to allow or require the University of California to provide the public benefits for illegal aliens.  And, under the federal law, only state legislatures may provide any in-state tuition and public benefits for illegal aliens.  Despite this, the UC Board of Regents began providing the benefits anyway.

According to the Judicial Watch petition:

    "By finding that entities other than state legislatures can determine illegal aliens' eligibility for public benefits, the Court of Appeal's decision weakened the federal government's powers over national immigration policy, transforming a law that allows 50 state legislatures to participate in immigration decisions into one that could allow 500 or 5,000 state agencies and local governments to participate in those decisions".

In August 2014, Judicial Watch filed a taxpayer lawsuit on behalf of De Vries in the L.A. County Superior Court, asking the court to halt the estimated annual $19.6 million in non-resident tuition waivers; $4.3 million in taxpayer-funded grants and scholarships; and $3.2 million in state loans the Regents had started giving illegal alien students.  Under California law, taxpayers have the right to sue to prevent unlawful expenditures of taxpayer funds and taxpayer-financed resources.

In March 2015, the Superior Court dismissed the complaint and the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Seven, affirmed the Superior Court ruling on December 9, 2016.

In January 2017, Judicial Watch filed a Petition for Review with the California Supreme Court.  On February 22, 2017, the petition for review was denied.

"California politicians should follow federal and state law rather than attempt to unlawfully force California taxpayers to subsidize illegal aliens," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "In-state tuition for illegal aliens at the University of California is just another form of sanctuary policy, which is both a misuse of tax dollars and a violation of law."


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