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U of T student union won’t support kosher food on campus

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University of Toronto (Wikimedia Commons photo)

A University of Toronto student union refused to support a campaign by the school’s Hillel to make kosher food available on campus since it is “pro-Israel.”

In an email, the Graduate Student Union (GSU) told a Jewish student, representing Hillel in requesting support for its “Kosher Forward” campaign, that supporting the kosher food campaign would go against the “will of the membership,” Hillel said in a statement alleging discrimination on the part of the student union.

The Graduate Student Union voted in 2012 to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

“Hillel strongly condemns this type of rhetoric, which associates support of the state of Israel with a campaign to make campus more accessible for Jewish students,” the statement said.

“This inability to separate Jewish individuals from the Israeli government’s actions is, indeed, a form of anti-Semitism,” the statement also said.

The Graduate Student Union at the University of Toronto is the only student union in Canada with a committee dedicated to promoting the BDS movement, according to B’nai Brith Canada. A complaint against this BDS committee has been pending before the university’s Complaint and Resolution Council for Student Societies for over six months.

On Sunday, B’nai Brith Canada wrote to officials at the university, asking them to swiftly condemn the Graduate Student Union’s stance on the kosher food initiative, ensure that the complaint against the GSU BDS Committee is expedited, and work to make kosher food more accessible on campus.

UPDATE: The Graduate Student Union at the University of Toronto has apologized for “unintentionally caus(ing) harm toward the Jewish community” after a union official suggested that the executive board would not support a campaign by the school’s Hillel to make kosher food available on campus since it is “pro-Israel.”

The statement issued on Sunday evening also said: “The External Commissioner did not intend to do harm in using this language, but recognizes that this is not an excuse for the harm that the wording of this response caused to the individual receiving it as well as to Jewish students at U of T.”

The statement notes that no official decision has been made on whether to bring the motion forward at the next board meeting.

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