Jewish students targeted at York meeting: B'nai Brith
Published Thursday, February 12, 2009 3:39PM EST
B'nai Brith Canada has asked to meet with York University officials after a reported flare-up involving some of the school's Jewish students.
The human rights organization said Jewish students were shoved and were insulted with anti-Semitic slurs during a news conference calling for the resignation of the heads of the York Federation of Students.
Some students reportedly had to seek refuge in the lounge of Hillel, the largest Jewish group on campus.
Officials with York University and the YFS were not immediately available for comment.
"We are disturbed and appalled by reports of Jewish students fearing for their safety and being scared to be identified as Jews on campus," Frank Dimant, B'nai Brith's executive vice-president, said in a news release. "Just last week we met with York University student leaders who communicated incident after incident of deliberate intimidation of Jewish students, and marginalization and isolation on campus.
"We have requested an urgent meeting with York University's administration to ensure that immediate measures be put in place to restore order and safety to campus life," he continued, adding that the organization had also contacted police about safety concerns.
A group of students gathered Wednesday to present a petition with 5,000 signatures calling for the YFS heads to resign, accusing them of taking sides during a lengthy strike at the university which saw about 50,000 students forced out of class for nearly three months.
Student Sammy Katz began collecting signatures on Feb. 2, the first day back at school after the strike ended.
"The executive stood on the picket line with CUPE," he told CTV Toronto at the time. "(The group) never called for binding arbitration. What about the students?"
That same day, Hamid Osman, head of the student federation, told CTV Toronto the petition is nothing more than politics at play.
"It's political opportunism. They want to get elected and they need a soap box," he said.