The University of Toronto intends to withhold funding from the Graduate Student Union over its policy requiring students to fund the BDS campaign against Israel.

According to B’nai Brith Canada, the university’s vice president and provost, Cheryl Regehr, made the announcement in a letter to students. The group reports that the school will keep nearly $11,000 in student fees from the union. That amount, the school claims, is what the union spends to promote BDS activities.

It is the first time that a Canadian university has retained money from groups supporting BDS and anti-Semitism.

“Today marks a pivotal step forward in the struggle against anti-Semitism at U of T, and at Canadian universities more broadly,” said CEO of B’nai Brith Canada Michael Mostyn. “While U of T should have gone further and withheld the entire fee, this is a positive precedent and a step in the right direction.”

The move comes in response to a complaint filed by Jewish student Chaim Katz, who said the student union was discriminating against him. In early February, the Complaint and Resolution Council for Student Societies ruled the student union was violating its anti-discrimination policy by discriminating against Israelis based on nationality.

“I am relieved that U of T has finally decided to take some action on behalf of Jewish students,” said Katz, “ …  it will hopefully make life easier for future generations of Jewish students.”

In December, the university was criticized by Jewish groups after a working group on anti-Semitism declined to endorse the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism, even though it has been adopted by the Canadian government. That report was the result of numerous complaints of anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred on University of Toronto campuses.

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