Antisemitism at Burlington school draws the ire of education minister

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Published May 28, 2024 at 6:10 pm

Stephen Lecce education minister Burlington antisemetic islamophombia
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Ontario’s Education Minister says the Halton District School Board needs to “wake up” to the antisemitism that exists in the system following a cultural event at a Burlington high school.

Stephen Lecce said the board and its leadership staff have to do something about anti-Jewish hatred after he was notified about an incident at Burlington Central High School where an open house was used as a forum to promote Palestinian interests.

“We will communicate my expectations…that the Halton District School Board take action on these unacceptable incidents and apply the same level of concern and enforcement to hate as they would for anyone else,” said Lecce in a statement since shared to members of the media. “The gross rise of antisemitism needs to be a wake-up call…about this disturbing trend.”

The incident took place on May 23.

In a letter sent to parents of students who attend Burlington Central, the school board said a map displayed during the open house showed that Palestine has replaced the state of Israel and that anti-Jewish sentiments were expressed.

Some also complained that during the event, students were allowed to wear clothing that promoted the elimination of Israel.

The board in the letter acknowledged the map was antisemitic and that the incident was being investigated.

Also, in the letter, the board said some students who were displaying a Palestinian flag and wearing a keffiyeh faced discriminatory behaviour from a member of the public in attendance at the event.

“This behaviour demonstrates anti-Palestinian racism and is not tolerated in our school.” the letter said.

The letter went on to say the board is concerned by the events that took place because they are harmful and unacceptable.

“Antisemitism, anti-Palestinian racism, and racism in any form is not tolerated at our school,” the letter stated.

The evening event at Burlington Central that prompted the controversy was billed as an arts & culture open house and world culture expo and to showcase student artwork.

 

 

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