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University of Toronto Student Union Resolution Bans Kosher Food That Normalizes “Israeli Apartheid”

[additional-authors]
November 30, 2021
Loozrboy/Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Student Union (SCSU) passed a resolution on November 26 that supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and aims to restrict the selling of kosher food that normalizes “Israeli apartheid.”

The resolution states that “efforts should be made to source Kosher food from organizations that do not normalize Israeli apartheid” but allows for exemptions “if no alternatives are available.” It also states that the union will “refrain from engaging with organizations, services, or participating in events that normalize Israeli apartheid” such as speakers who represent the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) or “support the military occupation of Palestine.” The SCSU will also urge the university to divest from businesses that “fund the occupation of Palestine.”

University President Meric Gertler said in a November 26 statement that the resolution is “specifically focused on Israel in a way that is troubling to many members of the community” and that “it is not acceptable to impose political tests on the recognition of Jewish student groups on any of the University of Toronto campuses.  It is unacceptable to impose political tests on suppliers of Kosher or any other type of food.”

B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn said in a statement that Gertler was right to denounce the SCSU resolution, but argued that such a resolution was possible “because the [University of Toronto] administration has failed, time and again, to end antisemitism on campus.” He called on the university to withhold funding from the SCSU until it rescinds the resolution.

Other Jewish groups condemned the resolution. The American Jewish Committee tweeted that the resolution is “directly targeting Jewish students. Preventing access to kosher food is antisemitism, plain and simple.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center also tweeted, “Warning to @Unilever + others considering #BDS – it’s not about helping Palestinians only about destroying Israel/Jewish people. BDSers now demand Jews only eat food from anti-Zionists. #Antisemitism doesn’t get more blatant or insidious. #NeverAgain!”

 

The SCSU released a statement on November 29 addressing the matter, saying that the kosher provision was addressing “a request for specific language on this necessity” and that they’re glad that the university has committed to providing kosher options for students. “We apologize for the distress that our miscommunication has caused the Jewish community on campus, and we understand their concerns.” The SCSU said they would be proposing exemptions on the matter at an upcoming Board of Directors meeting.

 

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Jewish on Campus tweeted that SCSU passed a resolution on November 29 protecting Jewish students on campus only after removing provisions that “include protecting the recognition of Jewish groups on campus, refraining from restricting which organizations Jewish groups can affiliate with, and defending academic freedom relating to Israel.” “This resolution only serves to enable the student governments’ own antisemitic behavior (attempting to place restrictions on Kosher food) while ignoring the requests of Jewish students,” they wrote in a subsequent tweet.

 

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