Group of Jewish teachers launch human rights complaint against B.C. teachers' union after alleged incidents of antisemitism

The union is being accused of ostracizing the teachers because they're Jewish or because they 'hold unpopular views' about Israel and the Hamas Oct. 7 attacks.

Group of Jewish teachers launch human rights complaint against B.C. teachers' union after alleged incidents of antisemitism
The Canadian Press / Nono Shen
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A group of teachers in British Columbia are launching a human rights complaint against the B.C. Teachers' Federation, alleging that the union engaged in "and enabled" antisemitism.

Vancouver labour lawyer Paul Pulver, representing B.C. Teachers Against Antisemitism, filed the complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal after "erasure of Jewish and Zionist voices and opinions" by the union in the workplace.

"They're concerned about people retaliating against them. They're concerned about what they've experienced already and the potential for that to get ratcheted up," Pulver said in an interview on Tuesday, reports CTV News. "In the circumstances, these teachers are extremely upset. They're fearful."

The union is being accused of ostracizing the teachers because they're Jewish or because they "hold unpopular views" about Israel and the Hamas Oct. 7 attacks.

"I don't think there are any teachers within this group who would have difficulty with legitimate criticism of Israel in respect of its political or military decision," Pulver said.

"Where the difficulty lies... is when it goes beyond that and into antisemitic conduct, which unfortunately is what these teachers feel they're witnessing now."

The complaint comes after last month's decision by the union to deny specialist recognition to the Holocaust and Antisemitism Educators Association (HAEA), making it ineligible for funding for curriculum development.

Other groups, like the Anti-Oppression Educators Collective which advocate for pro-Palestinian educational materials, were granted funding.

A statement from the B.C. Teachers Against Antisemitism said that the union's leadership caused "trauma and fear" among members and say they have been "intimidated and shamed" by colleagues.

Over two dozen instances of antisemitism either caused or facilitated by the teachers' union, the statement says.

Pulver mentioned the issue peaked at the federation's March annual general meeting.

According to the statement, prior to the meeting, the union's president sent members anti-racism training materials that omitted any mention of antisemitism but included a link to content with a poster saying, "Zionists F*ck Off."

The group alleges the meeting was dominated by "anti-Jewish and anti-Israel" voices, which "excluded, bullied, silenced, and prevented" Jewish teachers from speaking out against the "antisemitic motions" proposed during the meeting.

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