University punishes group for supporting anti-Israel boycotts, first time ever

The decision to withhold the funding marks the first time that a Canadian university has leveled a financial penalty against a group for promoting BDS or antisemitism on campus.

By World Israel News Staff

The University of Toronto announced that it would move to withhold funds from its Graduate Students Union (GSU) over the organization’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activity on campus.

U of T Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr said in an open letter last Friday that the institution would not release $10,918.36 budgeted for GSU, which is the amount the organization spent on anti-Israel activism.

“Today marks a pivotal step forward in the struggle against antisemitism at U of T, and at Canadian universities more broadly,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada.

“While U of T should have gone further and withheld the entire fee, this is a positive precedent and a step in the right direction.”

In 2012, the GSU officially endorsed the BDS movement, and has used the money earmarked for it by the university to fund BDS causes and events.

One GSU-funded event included a speaker who went on an antisemitic tirade, alleging that “Zios” [Zionists] control Brooklyn’s housing market and block non-Jews from obtaining housing in the borough.

The lecturer, indigenous rights activist Amanda Lickers, also called Ashkenazi Jews “Ashke-NAZIS” a number of times during her speech, adding that they are colonialist, fascist, and racist.

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The decision to withhold the funding marks the first time that a Canadian university has leveled a financial penalty against a group for promoting BDS or antisemitism on campus, B’nai Brith Canada said in a statement.

“I am relieved that U of T has finally decided to take some action on behalf of Jewish students,” said Chaim Katz, a Jewish former graduate student who originally complained about GSU’s funding of BDS activity.

“While this outcome took far longer than it should have, it will hopefully make life easier for future generations of Jewish students.”

B’nai Brith Canada noted that this was far from the first incident of antisemitic activity on the university’s campus.

After the university declined to award a position to prominent anti-Israel academic Valentina Azarova in May 2021, several professors said the decision was evidence of a “Zionist conspiracy.”

Teresa Zoric, President of the University of Toronto Faculty Association, said in June 2021 that an “entitled powerful Zionist minority” was engaged in “psychological warfare” to suppress Azarova’s supporters.