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  • Allied Voices for Israel (AVI)

TELL WILFRID LAURIER: Radical fringe groups do not represent our community

WATERLOO, Ont. (March 4, 2024) – Students at Wilfrid Laurier University are speaking out after the university approved an event that features a hateful speaker with ties to a radical fringe group as an authoritative figure on antisemitism.

The Jewish Campus Coalition (Allied Voices for Israel (AVI), Hillel Ontario, and StandWithUs Canada) is appalled that despite the overwhelming evidence Sheryl Nestel, a member of anti-Zionist group Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), fails to represent the voices of Jewish students on campus, Wilfrid Laurier is nonetheless allowing the event to proceed. Demystifying Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian racism, and antisemitism: Building Shared Understandings is scheduled for Wednesday, March 6 at 7pm ET. Dozens of students, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, have complained about Nestel’s involvement.

As organizations that represent Jewish students and our allies on university campuses across the country, we call you to join our campaign demanding that Wilfrid Laurier ensure that a representative of the Jewish community is invited to join the panel.

As a radical anti-Zionist group, IJV represents a tiny fringe minority of Canada’s Jewish community. In fact, according to a landmark survey, the majority of Jewish Canadians consider Zionism as our “normative form of identification.” 

Over the years, IJV has been accused of participating in Holocaust denial and glorifying terrorism. Nestel herself has promoted age-old anti-Jewish tropes and has claimed anyone who opposes the term “From the River to the Sea,” a genocidal call to destroy Israel, is promoting “anti-Palestinian racism.” 

This slogan, favoured by groups such as Hamas, which explicitly targets Israel’s existence through acts of terror against its civilians, unequivocally calls for anti-Jewish violence and effectively calls for the annihilation of Israel and all of the Jews living inside of it. 

“Allowing Sheryl Nestel to represent the Jewish community conflicts with Laurier’s guiding principles of ‘responsible governance,’ ‘making strategic choices for the long term health of the institution,’ and ‘integrity and strong leadership,’” said Aliza Kraft, a Wilfrid Laurier student.

“Nestel is extremely vocal in falsely educating others that anti-Zionism does not equate to antisemitism. Her views directly contradict the beliefs of the majority of Jewish people, especially Jewish students at Wilfrid Laurier. To allow her a platform to speak ‘on behalf of Jews’ is beyond unsettling and will only exacerbate the antisemitism that is already present on campus.”

“As Jewish community organizations, we work within an ecosystem that represents hundreds of thousands of Jewish Canadians from coast to coast. As a group that contradicts our shared mission and directly works against the interests of our community, IJV is regarded as a hate group that has done nothing but exacerbate the problem of antisemitism here in Canada,” said representatives of AVI, Hillel Ontario, and StandWithUs Canada.

“Ironically, by allowing IJV to speak as a representative on antisemitism, the rhetoric they share will only lead to the isolation of Jewish students and further antisemitism on campus. Dozens of students have already spoken out – why is Wilfrid Laurier refusing to listen to their concerns?”

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