The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) is the home of some of the most appalling of The University of Toronto's extremist radicals. It's no coincidence that OISE, the home of suspect programs of dubious academic value like 'Diversity Studies', is host to a number of anti-Israel lectures during the bigotfest of "Israeli Apartheid Week."
But to what extent has Jew hate permeated the academic programs at University of Toronto? Judging by some of the theses that are being granted a form of legitimacy, alarm bells should be going off and an investigation may be merited.
Take a look at two theses being guided at OISE's Department of Sociology and Equity Studies. One is a Master's Thesis from a Jenny Peto, one of the individuals behind the self-described "Queers Against Israeli Apartheid."
Her Master's thesis is titled, "The Victimhood of the Powerful: White Jews, Zionism and the Racism of Hegemonic Holocaust Education"
She describes her thesis in the following terms:
This paper focuses on issues of Jewish identity, whiteness and victimhood within hegemonic Holocaust education. I argue that today, Jewish people of European descent enjoy white privilege and are among the most socio-economically advantaged groups in the West. Despite this privilege, the organized Jewish community makes claims about Jewish victimhood that are widely accepted within that community and within popular discourse in the West. I propose that these claims to victimhood are no longer based in a reality of oppression, but continue to be propagated because a victimized Jewish identity can produce certain effects that are beneficial to the organized Jewish community and the Israeli nation-state. I focus on two related Holocaust education projects – the March of the Living and the March of Remembrance and Hope – to show how Jewish victimhood is instrumentalized in ways that obscure Jewish privilege, deny Jewish racism and promote the interests of the Israeli nation-state.
Why is Ms. Peto, who ostensibly is concerned about "Jewish racism," discounting the many Jews, both Israeli and not, who are not "white" but are of varied backgrounds other than European who are also part of the "organized Jewish community"? Does she think they don't count, just because they aren't "white"?
Let's take a closer look at part of her thesis:
"Jewish people of European descent enjoy white privilege and are among the most socio-economically advantaged groups in the West. Despite this privilege, the organized Jewish community makes claims about Jewish victimhood"
In other words, the rich Jews who control the world are pretending to be victims. If Ms Peto were a little more insightful, she might realize that the "organized Jewish community" is ensuring that the dangers of anti-Semitism are not ignored, which is somewhat different from claiming "victimhood." The fact that anti-Semitic crimes are by far the greatest type of religious-based hate crime around and are on the increase doesn't seem to have permeated Ms. Peto's obviously limited grasp of things. Anti-Jewish crimes number about 10 times the amount of anti-Muslim crimes. And those statistics aren't from B'nai Brith but the FBI.
Ms. Peto's academic advisor for her thesis is one Sheryl Nestel. Let's see if Ms Nestel has any other interesting thesis that she's "advising."
Yep! She does!
Here's one from a Griffin Epstein. It's called, "Extension: Towards a Genealogical Accountability: (The Critical [E]Race[ing] of Mad Jewish Identity" (author's parentheticals - ed.) and is described as:
Can we be accountable to privilege? Can we find a space for coherent anti-racist secular Ashkenazi Jewish identity in North America, where Jews have been deeply implicated in structural violence? Can we be agents of both complicity and change? This auto-ethnography describes a haunting; focusing on the ghostly presences of my deceased uncle Larry Treiman and Bruno Bettelheim, child psychologist and director of the residential treatment facility where Larry was institutionalized as a child, it creates a deeply personal explanation for how the whitening of Ashkenazi North American Jewish identity, the shifts in discourses of madness and major sociological and economic change in Chicago and New York over the second half of the 20th century constituted my subjectivity and my privilege. This text proposes accountability through genealogy, teasing out the possibility for ethical thought and action through cultivating a deeply personal relationship to the ghosts that make us.
Now this is very interesting. "This text proposes accountability through genealogy." Epstein seems to be arguing that Jews somehow bear a kind of 'race guilt' as if being Jewish is of itself a crime. There are precedents for this kind of thought. The Spanish Inquisition comes immediately to mind, and so does Hitler's Germany.
I particularly liked Epstein's description, "This auto-ethnography describes a haunting; focusing on the ghostly presences of my deceased uncle Larry Treiman and Bruno Bettelheim"
Well, if the ghosts are telling Epstein this is what's going on, it must be true. I'm surprised they're not listed as academic advisors along with Ms Nestel. Perhaps Epstein will do the right thing and list them as co-authors. Maybe the ghosts are the ones that said "Jews have been deeply implicated in structural violence ." As to what other issues Epstein may or may not have, I can only speculate.
What's really alarming is that this is what passes for academic discourse at OISE.
And what is shocking to me is that one of the courses that Sheryl Nestel taught at OISE is "Jews, Identity, and Difference". Maybe someone figures that academic Jew hate is okay as long as it's coming from someone who identifies as a Jew. It isn't.
What is happening at the University of Toronto and OISE needs to be exposed and investigated.
Here is the email address of John Milloy, the Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities:
Let him know what you think.
UPDATE: An addendum
UPDATE 2: Today, I spoke to a director of The March of The Living , one of the organized events Ms Peto claims perpetuates "how Jewish victimhood is instrumentalized in ways that obscure Jewish privilege, deny Jewish racism and promote the interests of the Israeli nation-state." and comprises a third of her Master's paper. According to him, he has no knowledge of Ms Peto having ever participated in The March of the Living, nor interviewing a single one of its staff or directors or participants. The only first hand research of The March of the Living Ms Peto references in her paper is from its website.
What that says about academic standards at OISE's sociology program is self-explanatory.
Professor Werner Cohn, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of British Columbia, had a very interesting analysis of the quality of Ms Peto's and by extension, OISE's Sociology Department's academic research standards.
If this is a matter of concern to you, in addition to Mr. Milloy, you should copy Tim Hudak, the leader of the provincial opposition at: email@example.com and Jim Wilson, the Critic for the Ministry of Colleges and Universities at firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE 3: David Hornik at Pajamas Media did an interesting deconstruction of Peto's "thesis" today (Nov. 19) in a front page piece called, "U. of Toronto Posts Anti-Semitic Tripe"
UPDATE 4: Nov. 23- U of Toronto's weak response and more on the culture of bias at OISE