Canadian Supreme Court gives University of Toronto student life sentence for senior thesis

December 10, 2010

In News

Ontario citizenship and immigration minister Eric Hoskins said Tuesday that he was “greatly disturbed and in fact disgusted” to read about a University of Toronto master’s thesis that calls two Holocaust education programs “racist.”

The thesis criticizes the March of the Living, on which young Jews and Holocaust survivors travel to Poland and Israel, and the March of Remembrance and Hope, on which non-Jews and survivors go to Germany and Poland. It was written by Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid activist Jenny Peto, who is Jewish.

The thesis was discussed in the Legislature after it was debated in the Star. Hoskins was responding to Progressive Conservative MPP Steve Clark, who called the thesis “disgusting.” PC MPP Peter Shurman, whose Thornhill riding includes a large Jewish population, said the thesis was a hateful, poorly researched “piece of garbage.”

According to Peto, the programs were designed to foster a sense of Jewish victimhood and generate support for Israel. The March of Remembrance and Hope, however, is run by the non-Jewish Canadian Centre for Diversity. The CCD and the March of the Living said the thesis was littered with errors.

Peto, 29, said the politicians’ criticisms merely reflected their own biases. “First they condemn Israeli Apartheid Week, then they condemn a Jewish student criticizing her own community. What’s next? Are they going to start burning books and arresting people because they speak out against Israel?”

U of T provost Cheryl Misak said she has been “a little alarmed at the kinds of things being said about a piece of student work.”

“It would be a good idea for us all to remember that it’s a student paper,” she said Tuesday. “I don’t know this student, but I certainly wouldn’t want to see this kind of scrutiny and unhappy attention on students in general.”