Equity Workshop for Educators&Parents:Unpacking Antisemitism & AntiZionism in our schools & Campuses
by: Diane Weber Bederman
Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights sponsored Equity Workshop for Educators and Parents: The Rise of Antisemitism and Antizionism in our schools on November 13 to help teachers fight against Jew hatred.
The seminar was officially opened by the HON. Linda Frum, who in her eloquent words had this to say:
“ We are in serious trouble when a community scared by intergenerational trauma, a people who are the children and grandchildren of those bearing numbers on their arms, is defined as privileged and complicit in the oppression of others”. For her full address please click here: Watch her opening remarks here.
Canadians for Israel’s legal Rights-CILR was founded in 2009 by the Late Salomon Benzimra and Goldi Steiner. It came about because of the seminal work of Salomon Benzimra who stated: “Tell the world there will be no negotiating until the territorial sovereignty of Israel and Judea Samaria is no longer questioned.” He spent many years of his life writing about Israel’s Legal and Historical Rights to the entire land of Israel, from the River to the Sea and titled it: The Jewish People’s Rights to the Land of Israel, published in 2011. Today, CILR is led by Goldi Steiner, Irving Weisdorf, and Agnes Imani.
Jew hatred, often called antisemitism is on the rise in Canada. This hatred has morphed from attacks on Jews and Jewish organizations to attacks on Israel-anti-Zionism. Our students from public school through university are under attack from anti-Zionism-the call that Israel is not a legitimate state, that she has no right to exist and that Israel is oppressing Muslims: who refer to themselves as Palestinians. There are safe spaces on campus for everyone but Jews. Our Jewish children and some families are hiding their identity out of fear of being bullied! That bullying now comes on social media where non-Jews who have never met a Jew learn to hate us. They learn from social media influencers like Kanye West who has 32 million followers. Where are the Jewish influencers?
I had the honour of attending the Equity Workshop for Educators and Parents November 13.
The event began with a call to arms from Linda Frum, Canadian Senator (retired) and now Chair of UJA, Toronto who reminded us of the disturbing and dangerous rise of Jew hatred in our schools; places where all students should feel safe and know they can be heard. She pointed out that while antiracism is at the forefront of conversation, today, especially in our schools, Jew hatred is ignored. Jewish teachers and students feel threatened whenever Israel is attacked by organizations, NGO’s and main stream media. And those attacks are frequent and nasty as Israel is the only nation held up to an ideal no other nation has been asked to uphold. Ms. Frum reminded us that Jew hatred is a virus that constantly mutates.
Beth Akler and Cindy Tobias, two teachers, each of whom has taught for more than twenty years, have become experts on Israel’s legal and historical right to exist (Unreal that I am writing this as no other country has to prove their right to exist) shared a tsunami of facts about Israel; particularly from 1948 when the UN partitioned what was left of the Jewish state into two nations; one Jewish, one Muslim. The Jews accepted; the Muslims did not and then came war. And more war in 1967 and more war in 1973 and then Intifadas because the Muslims refuse to accept their state. Back in 1922 Britain unilaterally and illegally divided the British Mandate for the Jewish Homeland in Palestine and gave away three quarters of the land to Muslims-the Hashemites, breaking with the San Remo Resolution.
They debunked the lies that Israel is an apartheid state, that Israel is racist, that Israelis are occupiers of the land, that Jews stole land in the Middle East (can’t get over that one-the Bible is a history of the Jewish people and the land of Israel), and my favourite “Zionism is Nazism.”
Ackley and Tobias truly believe that facts will help us fight this new Jew hatred. That having facts will give people the courage to fight back against the lies. And that fight must take place as Jews are the most targeted people in Canada.
Kudos to these two teachers. But I fear that facts don’t matter to those who have, systemic endemic hatred of all things Jewish and Israel. Critical thinking has been replaced with wishful thinking. There are billions who have been raised on that hate-from Catholics to Protestants to Muslims. And today the vast majority of hate comes from Islam. Yet, there was no mention of Islam.
Today, we live in a culture where ideology and propaganda trump facts. Where bullying has been normalized. Where teachers are being canceled for not being on the “right side” of ideology: be it transgender to Critical Race Theory to antizionism. Teachers present at the event spoke about their fear of speaking up. Fear of being fired. They shared concerns that School Boards seem to be on the side of the antizionists. This is industrialized bullying and our teachers need to learn how to fight back to the bullying.
Dr. Neil Orlowsky, Director of Education and Chair of Global Education with the Abraham Global Peace Initiative spoke at the end. He told us that educators-that means teachers and all people involved in the school curriculum, need to be able to identify explicit and implicit Jew hatred and acknowledge that the diversity, inclusion, and equity reformers must stop identifying Jews as privileged, white and oppressors. As always throughout history, it only takes a few teachers to promote Jew hatred.
This workshop was a wonderful entry point. Although facts don’t tend to change the minds of many people when it comes to the rights of Israel, they are needed. But we also need workshops that teach teachers how to fight back against the Jew-hating bullies. We need to teach resilience to bullying. We need to give teachers tools to fight against all of the progressive bullies because Jew hatred is promoted by Progressive ideology (DIE-Diversity, Inclusion Equity) which divides us into victims and victimizers, oppressors and the oppressed and Jews are always portrayed as the evil ones.
Jews have been hated since time immemorial. Why? Well that is the eternal question “Why the Jews.”? While we search for an answer we must protect our students from bullying by Professors and teachers student, and organizations who stand with BDS and “Palestine will be free from the River to the Sea.”
This workshop is an excellent beginning. Sadly, we have only just begun. We must follow up with strategies that help us stop the Jew-hating bullying.