In a mass email addressed “to the tribe” that has been making the rounds in the Jewish community, entrepreneur and philanthropist Seymour Schulich said he’s “sick and tired” of Jews complaining about anti-Semitism in Canada in general and at York University in particular.
“I grew up in Montreal, Quebec, where the school system was predominantly Catholic and Protestant. Real anti-Semitism was rife!” wrote Schulich, a York benefactor after whom the university’s acclaimed Schulich School of Business is named.
“Yet in my entire life I have never experienced one iota of anti-Semitism. WHY? THE SIMPLE ANSWER IS BECAUSE I FIT IN WITH THE MAJORITIES! There was a Catholic school across the street from my Grade 8 Protestant school in Montreal. If you wore a yamulka or a talis [sic] under your shirt, the odds were pretty good you could collect a lot of rocks thrown from the Catholic schoolyard.”
In an interview with The CJN, Schulich acknowledged that people have taken “great umbrage” at his email, part of which says that people shouldn’t advertise their Jewishness by wearing religious garb.
“People are going to take great umbrage on that. ‘Oh, I shouldn’t have to do that.’ Well, you should know that if you don’t do it, you’re asking for it. And you might get it. If I was in Quebec and I marched around the old days like that… I think I would get a few rocks thrown at me.”
In the April 30 email, which was initially sent to about 70 people, and likely forwarded to many more, Schulich praised York president Mamdouh Shoukri as a “personnel [sic] friend and one of the most secular folks I know.” He also suggests that all religious clubs be banned from university campuses, scoffs at the perceived success of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, and says tensions at York relating to Israel have arisen because arts students, who make up a majority of York’s student body, have too much time on their hands.
“All the problems, when you analyze them, are coming from the people studying arts. And why? They have too much time. It’s very simple… I was studying chemistry. I had no time for this nonsense… I had no time to demonstrate and run around the campus raising hell about anything. The real problem at York is that we have 70 per cent arts people. The trouble starts there,” Schulich told The CJN.
“And as far as York goes, I don’t think York is any better or any worse than anywhere else, OK?… I don’t think these boycotts amount to a hill of beans… Israel can take care of itself. I’m not worried about that for two seconds.”
Schulich, 76, insisted that he’s a strong supporter of Israel, both financially and ideologically.
“You’ve got a guy who has given $80 million to Israel in 10 years. I’m not anti-Israeli. I’m not anti-Semitic. I’m not a ‘White Jew.’ I’m just saying man up already! Stop whining and bitching about York University. You’ve got a good president – you don’t want to go to York? Hey! Don’t go!”
In a reply to Schulich’s email, former federal finance minister Joe Oliver wrote that the issues facing Jewish students at York won’t be solved by them hiding their Jewishness.
“I do agree Jewish students should always try to fit in with the majority… That of course does not mean compromising their core beliefs or principles, which the hard left wants them to do,” Oliver wrote.
“We need to develop strategies to deal with the situation rather than pretend it does not exist and that things were worse before… the problem is not just going to go away on its own.”