The Shmooze

Blogger Spreads News of Anti-Semitic 'Jew Count' at University of Toronto

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

With all the Israel-related new anti-Semitism taking place on college campuses lately, people might forget that there is still some good old-fashioned, early 20th century-style anti-Semitism out there, too.

Richard Klagsbrun, a Canadian social media entrepreneur and writer, reported on June 13 on his “Eye on a Crazy Planet” blog on anti-Semitism and a “Jew count” at the University of Toronto. The reported anti-Semitic behavior of a professor of social work (as well as some of her students) took place in late 2009. One of the professor’s U of T colleagues published an account of it in the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism in 2010, and the Canadian Jewish News ran a story on it in early that same year. It appears, however, that it is Klagsbrun’s blog post that has exposed the incident more broadly as it has spread in recent days through social networking on the Internet.

According to Klagsbrun’s reported account, as well as Professor Ernie Lightman’s supporting academic paper, Professor Rupaleem Bhuyan was sympathetic to students in one of her graduate level classes who publicly said they did not want to be around Jews and expressed disdain at having to visit Baycrest Centre, a highly regarded Jewish geriatric and research facility, on a field trip. The students reportedly said they were uncomfortable being around “rich Jews.” Bhuyan neither cut off the conversation nor turned the situation into a teachable moment. In a subsequent class, when students began discussing which of their professors were Jewish, she stated (erroneously) that half the professors in her department were Jewish. She reportedly even approved of the student’s conducting a “Jew count” of the social work professors right then and there.

“Finally, one young woman spoke up, protesting her grandparents had come to Canada with virtually nothing and she was proud her family could now afford the fees for them to reside at Baycrest. That must have rung an alarm bell for Professor Bhuyan, because startlingly, she then admonished her students not to divulge what transpired in class to outsiders. But her classroom was not Las Vegas and what happened there did not stay there. Some outraged Jewish students approached Professor Paula David, who in turn consulted senior professors Ernie Lightman [the professor who wrote the JSAS paper] and Adrienne Chambon,” Klagsbrun recounted.

The two senior faculty members, on behalf of the aggrieved Jewish students, approached Bhuyan, as well as both the dean of the School of Social Work and the president of U of T. They were disappointed with the resultant actions of the university, which amounted to generalized condemnations of anti-Semitism, without any specific reference to Bhuyan and what transpired in her classes. Bhuyan was never called out individually, and her teaching contract was renewed.

“The department’s approach seemed to imply a widespread problem with anti-Semitism — which there wasn’t — and that everyone is potentially a racist when one professor promoted anti-Semitism and was never held publicly accountable. It’s ironic that a department purporting to teach anti-racism is incapable of dealing with racism in its own house. We have a responsibility to students to ensure faculty do not abuse the power inherent in their positions, and to the community-at-large to ensure all the Social Workers it graduates reflect and promote the values of the field. That hasn’t happened here,” Lightman said.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: University of Toronto, Rupaleem Bhuyan, Richard Klagsbrun, Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism, Eye on a Crazy Planet, Canadian Jewish News, Anti-Semitism

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.