Unvarnished blatant antisemitism was on clear display by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at Ryerson University in Toronto. The incident occurred during a session designed to implement a Holocaust Education Week at the university. Hecklers from those two organizations interrupted the session repeatedly with cat-calls and raucous behavior. The very students, who needed to learn the lessons of the Holocaust the most, exited the meeting en masse and on cue.

The organizers of the event, the Ryerson Student Union (RSU), had drafted a resolution which was purposely non-political. There was no mention of Israel, Jews or Zionism in the resolution; its focus was about pluralism and diversity. The purpose for having a Holocaust Education Week was to stress inclusion, not exclusion, tolerance not intolerance, open-mindedness, not close-mindedness.

Granted there were other holocausts, the Armenian and Rwandan come to mind, but there was only one ‘Holocaust’. The Holocaust was unique because it specifically targeted everyone of a particular faith for extermination. Specifically, the infamous Nuremberg Laws define a ‘Jew’ as someone with three or four Jewish grandparents. Consequently the genocidal Nazis murdered even people who converted from Judaism to another religion, including Catholic priests, nuns and Protestant ministers whose grandparents were Jewish.

Therefore by omitting any mention of Jews in the motion referencing the Holocaust was nothing more than backing down to in the face of hooliganism by the pro-Palestinian students. It was wrong to obscure the enormity of evil the Holocaust inflicted on the Jewish people in a fog of circuitous language.

The manager of Ryerson’s public affairs office, Johanna VanderMaas, expressed concern about recent allegations of boorish behavior at the session and that, “We are committed to providing a safe environment which is free of discrimination, harassment and hate and is respectful of the rights, responsibilities, well-being and dignity of all of its members.”

VanderMaas added that Ryerson University president Mohammed Lachemi had met with the president of the student union, Obaid Ullah, to ‘discuss’ the matter. 

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