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U of Toronto kosher controversy ‘absurd’
by JTA | Nov 21, 2019

The leaders of Israel’s seven universities are expressing their outrage over the University of Toronto’s Graduate Student Union conflating a kosher food programme with support for Israel.

“Just when we thought that we’d seen it all regarding the ascent of anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism on campus, the Graduate Student Union at the University of Toronto took this theatre of the absurd to new heights by characterising kosher food as ‘pro-Israel’,” Ron Robin, the chairperson of the Committee of University Heads of Israel, said in a statement released on Tuesday. Robin is president of the University of Haifa.

In response to a Jewish student’s request for the union to officially support the Kosher Forward Campaign, the union’s external commissioner suggested that the executive committee might be reluctant to advance such a motion to its board of directors, saying that since [Jewish campus organisation] Hillel was “pro-Israel”, supporting the motion would go against the “will of the membership”.

The union later apologised for “unintentionally caus(ing) harm toward the Jewish community”.

Prague to return Jewish gravestone fragments

Pieces of Jewish gravestones used to pave sidewalks in Prague will be given to the Jewish community to return to the city’s Old Jewish Cemetery.

Headstones from the 19th-century cemetery were cut into cobblestones during roadwork ahead of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit to Czechoslovakia in 1987, Radio Prague International reported. The cemetery is no longer used for burials.

The Czech Jewish community has called for the removal and return of the stones for years.

Sacha Baron Cohen to be honoured by ADL

Sacha Baron Cohen was this week honoured by the Anti-Defamation League for “vision, imagination, and creativity”.

Cohen, who most recently portrayed late Israeli spy Eli Cohen in a Netflix series, received the International Leadership Award during the civil rights organisation’s Never is Now summit on anti-Semitism and hate held in New York City on Thursday.

The actor, comedian and director’s political satire includes the films Borat and The Dictator.

“Baron Cohen has used humour and satire to expose people’s inherent biases by depicting racists, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, Islamophobes, and others as deeply flawed, ordinary people whose prejudices are, ultimately, laughable,” the ADL said in a statement.

US embassy issues travel warning for Israel

The United States embassy in Jerusalem has issued a travel warning for visiting Americans in the aftermath of the US announcement that the government did not consider the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank as illegal.

The warning issued on Monday said visiting Americans could be targets of “individuals and groups opposed to the secretary of state’s recent announcement”. It covers those visiting or planning to visit Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.

Israeli restaurant hacked with anti-Semitic message

The phone line and voicemail of a restaurant in Portland, Oregon, that bills itself as selling Israeli street food was hacked and its greeting changed to an anti-Semitic message.

The Shalom Y’all restaurant said in a message posted on its website that it became aware of the incident on Saturday evening. City police are investigating the incident as a possible bias crime.

The line was repaired and then hacked again on Sunday evening, according to the message, which said the attackers also “committed various hate/prank calls using our phone number”. The calls were made to two other Middle Eastern restaurants in the area, according to KGW8, the local NBC affiliate.

Israel turns Jews into extremists, says politician

A candidate for British parliament representing the Conservative Party said that local Jews who go to Israel “have come back as extremists – as people that are brainwashed”, but has since expressed “deep regret” for his remarks.

In a 2104 speech delivered to the European Parliament in Brussels, Amjad Bashir, who is currently running for parliament in a Leeds constituency, said, “Young men are going over from England where I come from, people of the Jewish faith who my grandchildren have grown up with as decent young men,” according to a report in The Jewish Chronicle on Monday. “They will not listen to reason. There is something very peculiar and wrong going on in Israel,” he said, blaming “rabbis and politicians”.

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