Readers of this space know that GAJE is planning a lawsuit to try to end the Government of Ontario’s funding discrimination against Jewish (and other) independent schools. In the year 2021, in a society that cherishes its democratic rights and freedoms, it is deeply offensive that the Government of Ontario prefers and supports one religion above the others worshipped by Ontarians.
The historic founding agreement of 1867 by which the government justifies its ongoing support for the schools of only one religion is not a bar – nor was it ever intended to be – to the government from doing the right thing for Ontario children of other religious denominations learning in the province’s independent schools. In contrast to the educational funding policies in Canada’s five largest provinces outside of Ontario, Queen’s Park perpetuates an antiquated, anachronistic system that perpetuates discrimination.
In the past, and quite clearly at present as well, Ontario politicians have argued that educational funding fairness will lead to the shredding of the province’s multicultural fabric or to the ruination of the public school system. These arguments are specious, empty of all substance, and proven to be so by the positive experiences of other provinces. Moreover, the Ontario politicians who continue to shield behind the arrangements and conditions of 1867 have turned experience on its head. For in truth, by standing on the hard rigid edges of discrimination, it is they who tear away at the full potential of our diverse societal fabric, actually diminishing the rich tapestry of the mosaic that is the Canada of 2021 the spirit of which is enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (S. 27).
And speaking of doing the right thing and standing for truth, we must question the judgements of officials at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) in relation to decisions that allow the State of Israel to be vilified under official TDSB sanction.
The CJN carried a story last week describing the fallout from a nasty lunch hour rally on November 12 at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute, at which students chanted “free Palestine” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and carried signs displaying the same malevolent message.
Educators with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) say they will work to ensure that students and staff understand the “multiple meanings” of expressions about the Israel-Palestine conflict.
In response to complaints regarding the rally’s import, an executive superintendent and a superintendent of education, signed a letter in which they wrote:
“Those expressions mean different things to different people because of different lived experiences…Some members of the Jewish community have experienced these phrases as antisemitic and hateful. Some Palestinians use the phrases as a statement of their rights as people.”
The CJN reported that the school board said it “will work with staff and students to ensure they understand these multiple meanings and ensure hate is not part of the discussion.”
Of course, everyone in our society has the right to publicly speak their minds and to express opinions however factually incorrect, thoughtless, insensitive or plain galling. The rallying cry at Marc Garneau however were far more than thoughtless, insensitive and galling. They were a call to genocide. And, indeed, they were profoundly hurtful to members of the Jewish community.
That youthful organizers of the rally might be unaware of the truths underlying their public statements or the pain and anger they cause to others may not be surprising. But the educators and board members who authorized this form of verbal brutality should have known better.
The CJN reported that Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre (FSWC) and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) pointed out to the TDSB the harm created by such exceptionally frightful public displays by the students.
“It’s time the TDSB step up and take responsibility for allowing such a toxic environment to fester through its inaction on previous incidents of antisemitism, creating an atmosphere in which lashing out against the Jewish community is acceptable and Jewish staff and students are left feeling attacked and voiceless,” said Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, director of policy at FSWC.
The board “needs to take urgent, concrete action to address systemic antisemitism,” said Noah Shack, CIJA’s vice president, GTA. The incident at Marc Garneau is the most recent in “a series” of antisemitic incidents that have not been fully addressed by the board, Shack said.
Nothing will more blatantly and harshly shred the province’s multicultural fabric or lead to the ruination of the public school system, than allowing one of the storied and splendid communities – in this case, the Jewish community – within the province’s multicultural structure to be constantly attacked, disparaged and reviled.
The right thing to do – for us and for the province – is to champion truth and fairness.
The full CJN article is available at:
To help underwrite the lawsuit, please click here.
(For further information, please contact Israel Mida at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Charitable receipts for donations for income tax purposes will be issued by Mizrachi Canada. Your donations will be used for the sole purpose of underwriting the costs of the lawsuit.
Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)
November 19, 2021