‘Shoot a Jew in the head’ graffiti puts Toronto Jewish students on edge

Some students say that the graffiti is not an isolated incident and that the environment on campus is unsafe for Jews.

By World Israel News Staff

Antisemitic graffiti urging the murder of Jews found on a wall near a major university in Toronto last week is putting Jewish students on edge, some of whom say that the vandalism is far from an isolated incident.

A picture of the graffiti circulating on social media depicted a head, adorned with Jewish religious symbols, including a kippah (yarmulke), peyot (sidelocks) and a Star of David in the crosshairs of a rifle.

“Shoot a Jew in the head,” was scrawled next to the drawing, which was walking distance from York University.

Robert Leitner, a Jewish student who attends the university, told Global News that the graffiti left him rattled.

“Horrified, scared, just so many emotions — anger, sadness,” said Leitner. “I live less than a minute’s walk from here, and knowing that something so hateful and so maniacal so close to my house where I live and sleep — it’s frightening.”

Leitner informed his friend Garrett Ryan, who is also Jewish, about the graffiti. The pair reached out to Jewish human rights group B’nai Brith Canada for help, which in turn approached York

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The university released a statement condemning the “hateful, antisemitic act,” but Ryan and Leitner told Global News that the institution has repeatedly looked the other way when it comes to anti-Jewish rhetoric on campus.

“York U has its issues with antisemitism, on-campus and around campus,” Leitner said .

“There are things that are within York — posters, paintings, artwork that go up that are really just detrimental to the Jewish community.”

“I would just like to see more of a concern,” he added. “It seems like for the past couple of years, it’s been pushed under the rug.”

In September 2021, the York Federation of Students chose a vocal BDS activist group to lead a course on combatting antisemitism and decided to hold the session on a Jewish holiday, which would make participation by religiously observant Jews on that day impossible.

In 2019, students at an anti-Israel rally on campus reportedly chanted, “Jews back in the ovens,” a Holocaust reference.

In 2016, York’s student newspaper, Excalibur, expressed sympathy and concern for a university lab technician who was fired for Facebook posts calling Zionists “servants of” of the devil who are planning to perpetuate a “Holocaust” on the world.

The paper argued that the lab tech’s firing “raised questions about free speech,” despite the fact that the university maintains a clear policy that employees can be terminated for promoting hateful statements towards ethnic groups and racial incitement on their social media accounts.

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