Friday, January 13, 2023

"To learn antisemitism, Canadian kids go to university" by Brian Henry

Dr. Ayelet Kuper

A new report has revealed stunning antisemitism at the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine (TFOM). Following years of complaints from faculty, staff and students, the medical school took the unprecedented step of appointing a Senior Advisor on Antisemitism. The appointee, Dr. Ayelet Kuper, recently published her report as a peer-reviewed article in the Canadian Medical Education Journal (here).  

Among numerous instances of antisemitism, Dr. Kuper reports being told: “All Jews are liars; that Jews lie to control the university or the faculty or the world, to oppress or hurt others, and/or for other forms of gain; and that antisemitism can’t exist because everything Jews say are lies, including any claims to have experienced discrimination.”

The mainstream media noticed the report, but barely.

The CBC, which covers equity and diversity, race and racism 24/7 published one opinion piece on its website. Nothing on the news. Nothing on As It Happens, Metro Morning, or the Current. Ironically the one CBC piece is titled: “Does antisemitism count?” Clearly, not at the CBC.

The CBC and other pieces in the mainstream media picked up on the lack of support Jews receive from the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) crowd, but what Dr. Kuper reports is not mere lack of support, but Jew-hatred coming most especially from “EDI-related spaces.”

Dr. Kuper relates that a faculty member told her “Jews mustn’t be allowed to speak on their own behalf about antisemitism and shouldn’t even be subject to the protection from discrimination as outlined in the Ontario Human Rights Code on the grounds that what Jews call antisemitism isn’t real.”

Off campus, antisemites also use the strategy of saying
"any Jew who calls them out is just racist and is lying
 in order to oppress Palestinians." 
In 2021, Toronto School Board Trustee Alexandra Lulka
was investigated for anti-Palestinian racism because she
objected to a teacher distributing grossly antisemitc
material. See here.

“More specifically,” Dr. Kuper says, “I experienced the now-common strategy among those at TFOM who have made what I believe to be antisemitic statements to say that any Jew who calls them out is just racist and is lying in order to oppress Palestinians; this strategy was reportedly also explicitly taught to TFOM learners by faculty members during an off-campus event.”[i]

Another faculty member told Dr. Kuper antisemitism could not be addressed in a teaching session about Equity Diversity and Inclusion “because such teaching might normalize the existence of a Jewish state in Israel, which would be beyond the bounds of acceptable speech.”

While Zionism simply means support for Israel’s existence, Dr. Kuper notes, “There are those at TFOM who have insisted (to me and to others) that this term means various racist and hateful things, ranging from ‘hating all Muslims’ to ‘wanting to murder all Palestinians.’ Such false definitions are then used to justify hatred of any Jews who ‘admit’ to being Zionists” – which means just about all Jews.

Dr. Kuper writes that, in her experience, “the longstanding myth of ‘Jewish power’” is “the traditional antisemitic trope that is … invoked at TFOM more often than any other.”

By way of specific example, she writes: “When a lecture on religious discrimination was instituted within the medical school in the spring of 2021, I was asked by non-Jewish learners why content about Jews was ‘being forced on the students by the Jew who bought the Faculty.’ Those learners explained that they meant James Temerty, who with his wife had made a sizeable donation to the Faculty (which was subsequently renamed in their honour), and who is not Jewish” – but was assumed to be Jewish because of his wealth.

Within the medical school, Dr. Kuper also heard that Jews “control CaRMS (the Canadian Residency Matching Service, which manages the residency selection process), Jews control faculty hiring, and Jews control TFOM’s promotion decisions.”

And she notes: “a pervasive belief in certain circles of faculty members and learners that anyone at TFOM who angers ‘the Jews’ will have their career destroyed by ‘the Jews’ – and I have had it explained to me on multiple occasions that this fear of Jews, instead of being a bias to be combatted, is actually the reverse: that those who fear Jews based on this egregious stereotype are actually the ones being discriminated against, since they have to cope with their fear of ‘the powerful Jews.’”

Most people, normal people, have a hard time wrapping our heads around antisemitism. We find it especially hard to comprehend well-educated people as antisemites – doctors for God’s sake! 

For example, in her otherwise excellent opinion piece (the single piece about this outrageous racism published by the Globe and Mail), Marsha Lederman remarks: “If the current and future doctors of Canada think this way, what do less educated members of our society think of ‘the Jews’?”

This is precisely backwards. In Canada, the less educated generally have no problem with Jews. To learn antisemitism, Canadian kids go to university.

The dominant ideology of Critical Theory – which Dr. Kuper subscribes to (as do many professors these day) is a post-modern conspiracy theory.

Dr. Kuper provides a précis: “At TFOM we teach our medical students in their first-year lectures about race as a social (not biological) construct that has been set up as an act of power, to locate and maintain power within certain groups of people while oppressing or dehumanizing other groups of people. Like many medical educators, we specifically talk about whiteness as being about power.”[ii]

That is, white people have conspired to oppress and dehumanize everyone else (though perhaps not on purpose  the oppression reproduces itself in mysterious ways). But while Dr. Kuper believes in all this, she protests that Jews aren’t white. This is true: Jews come in all colours, and certainly we do not define ourselves as a race – white or otherwise.

But whether Jews are white or not depends on where a racist stands on the political spectrum. On the racist far right, white is good, and Jews aren’t. On the left, within the ideology of Critical Theory, white is bad, and so what are Jews…?

Anyone with the least familiarity with Jewish history can’t be surprised that Jews have ended up in the bad column. Of course, our new Critical Theorists see Jews as oppressors! The new ideology maps seamlessly onto the old myths of Jewish power, Jewish money, and Jewish conspiracy.

Although white people are the villains of Critical Theory, it's also true that most adherents to this ideology are white themselves, and I'd suggest this mitigates the animosity – white people as a group aren't demonized, aren't presented as being outside of humanity altogether. But while the Critical Theorists see Jews as white, Jews are also obviously not white  both a white oppressor and also something worse, a distinct group that can be demonized. 

Why has this happened? In part because the old antisemitic myths lie dormant everywhere in our culture, waiting to be picked up by any belief system susceptible to them – which Critical Theory has proved itself to be, not just at the University of Toronto, but throughout Canada, the United States, and the UK.  

But why? Again, perhaps because Critical Theory already resembles antisemitism: it's a conspiracy theory that ascribes all power to one group, a group that's privileged by its wealth, and Critical Theory believes all social evil flows out of this basic dichotomy between the oppressor group and the oppressed. Once Jews are named as the oppressor group, then this is simply the traditional antisemitic myth.

Moreover, the new ideology has inherited the antisemitic beliefs of its predecessors on the left. Israel has long been seen on the left as uniquely evil – the only country in the world whose destruction is routinely called for (and the further left you go, the truer this is). The left has seen Israel as racist – and as irreparably racist because while, for others, national self-determination is seen as a human right, for Jews and only Jews, it’s called racist.

Click on photos to enlarge them.

Dating back to Edward Said, Critical Theory has also accused Israel of being a settler colonial state – making Jews the one and only indigenous group called a colonial power in our own land. 

The new ideology has fully taken on these antisemitic lies and has recently added the twist that as “whites” Jews are oppressing the “brown” Palestinians.

Some people who believe in the new ideology argue that Jews belong in the good, oppressed column, not the bad, oppressor column – as does Dr. Kuper. After all, Jews have been frequently persecuted throughout history and Israel is a tiny liberal democracy continually attacked by much larger nations; it ought to be obvious which side of any oppressed-oppressor dichotomy Jews fall on.

But emotion drives movements, not reason.

For the new ideology, antisemitism is the norm. Thus, Dr. Kuper is isolated among the EDI crowd. She writes: I’ve been told by colleagues that being born in Israel and refusing to denounce the existence of my place of birth as a Jewish state means that I am inherently racist and that any discrimination I encounter as a Jew in Canada is therefore deserved.”

At U of T, students are similarly excluded based on their attachment to Israel. Dr. Kuper reports: “Jewish learners have been forced to express their beliefs about Israel and/or Zionism prior to being allowed to participate in university activities.”

This is not just a U of T phenomena. For example, when the terrorist group Hamas launched a war against Israel in 2011, two dozen Gender Studies departments at universities across Canada published an open letter declaring their solidarity with Hamas and saying: “Anti-colonial activism informs the foundation of our discipline.” Or in other words: if you support Israel, you don’t belong in gender studies. {See here.}

Again, for almost all Jews, attachment to Israel is part of our identity – and it’s a part of our identity that the new ideology routinely demonizes.

Educated antisemites are nothing new. 

Antisemitism has always been the preferred bigotry of those who see themselves as the in-crowd, the people who enjoy feeling superior – intellectually, culturally, racially, or morally. At our universities, the antisemites seem to be most especially pleased by their imagined moral superiority.

Of course, the uneducated also sometimes see themselves as superior. Hitler had about a Grade 8 education. But while Hitler was no intellectual, German intellectuals were strongly pro-Nazi. Even before Hitler rose to power in 1933, most student groups were already Nazis. A swastika pin showed you were one of the cool kids. And when Hitler did come to power, faculty at universities across Germany applauded.

Martin Heidegger, chancellor of Freiberg University and foremost German philosopher of the 20th Century, stated: “The Fuhrer himself and he alone is German reality and its law, today and for the future.” 

Heidegger’s main philosophical concern was man’s “being-in-the-world.” But Jews, he wrote in his notebooks, are “worldless,” a status lower than animals. According to Heidegger, ontologically speaking, Jews don’t belong in existence at all. In the context of the Holocaust this gives me chills.

At the Wannsee Conference called to lay down the strategy for the murder of Europe’s Jews, seven of the fifteen attendees held doctorates – and this in an age when PhDs were rare.

Hanukkah, which we’ve been celebrating recently, commemorates the success of the Jewish rebellion against our Syrian-Greek rulers. In the last centuries before the Christian era, Greek culture dominated the Middle East. It was the very height of culture.

As the American novelist and essayist Dara Horn points out, “Judaism is a counter culture,”[iii] and because of that, throughout the ages, dominant cultures pick on the Jews – because we show there’s another way. And when you know you represent the height of culture or you’re establishing a thousand-year Reich, or you’re woke and on the right side of history, a counter culture looks like a manifestation of evil – or at least an annoying challenge to your superiority.

In 168 BCE, the Greeks decided to no longer put up with these primitive Jews and banned Jewish practice. That ignited the Maccabean revolt which ended with the re-establishment of an independent Jewish kingdom.

But before that happy ending and the subsequent establishment of Hanukkah, even some Jews thought the Greeks had everything right. To become Greek, they underwent surgery to reverse their circumcisions – this at a time with no effective pain killers or antibiotics, when such surgery wouldn’t just hurt; it could kill you. There’s no limit it seems to what some people will do to hang out with the cool kids and, specifically in the 2nd Century BCE, to play sports in the nude as all superior people did.

These days it’s easier for Jews to hang out with the cool kids. Jews don’t need to mutilate their penises, just their souls. In her report on antisemitism as the U of T medical school, Dr. Kuper notes a small number of Jews at TFOM who have joined the antisemites. She says, “Some of them described to me a deep embarrassment at being Jewish.” 

The antisemites hide behind these co-opted Jews. “Their being Jewish is often used by them and by their non-Jewish colleagues to claim that what they are all saying or doing can’t possibly be antisemitic,” says Dr. Kuper, a process she describes as “Jew-washing.”

We know such co-opted Jews have been weaponized by our enemies for the past 2200 years (and doubtless longer).  They're difficult to deal with, but they come and they go. The Jews remain.

In the meanwhile, the new ideology represents a grave danger, particularly as its’s being taught throughout the university system and increasingly in high schools, with its attitudes leaking down to the grade school level.

On the bright side, we should remember that, although this new ideology demonizes Jews, encourages bad behaviour and invites people to enjoy the pleasures of bullying while feeling morally superior about it, most Canadians don’t want to be bullies. For the moment, most of us are mostly safe.



[i] The strategy of accusing Jews who protest antisemitism of being racist also gets used outside universities. In 2022, Toronto Board of Education Trustee Alexandra Lulka objected to a teacher distributing material that was grossly antisemitic and that praised terrorists and terrorism. For this, and although she made no mention of Palestinians at all, Lulka was accused of anti-Palestinian racism. An investigator concluded she was guilty and Lulka avoided official censure only because a narrow majority of her fellow Trustees had the sense to see that objecting to antisemitism is not racism. See here.

[ii] Critical Theory includes Critical Race Theory, Post-Colonial Theory, Queer Theory, and Intersectional Feminist Theory. For a good read on the evolution of Postmodernism into this pervasive ideology, see Cynical Theories: How activist scholarship made everything about race, gender and identity … and why this harms everybody  by Helen Pluckrose & James Lindsay (see here).   

[iii] For my analysis of Hanukkah, I’ve relied heavily on Dara Horn. If you haven’t yet read her, do run out and buy People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present (available here) or start by reading Yair Rosenberg’s conversation with her on Deep Shtetl in The Atlantic (here).

Brian Henry is a writer, editor, creative writing instructor, and publisher of the Quick Brown Fox blog. He’s written opinion pieces for the National Post and the Toronto Star. He was also a regular contributor to the (now defunct) Jewish Tribune and the Engage and Harry’s Place websites in the UK.

An earlier version of this piece, titled “Antisemites at the U of T medical school and the danger of the new ideology" previously appeared in


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