Signs at Toronto Jewish school vandalized with pro-Palestinian slogans
Toronto – Students and faculty at The Leo Baeck Day School’s South Campus in Toronto returned from the Thanksgiving long weekend to find pro-Palestinian slogans plastered on the school’s sign, the flagpole and a UJA Federation sign near the front entrance.
The slogans were written in marker and said, respectively, “Free Palestine,” “Long Live Palestine” and “Long Life to the Hamas,” according to a statement from B’nai Brith Canada. They were discovered by a school security guard and many students saw them when they arrived for class.
Eric Petersiel, Leo Baeck’s head of school, said in a statement that the school immediately contacted police, its security company and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). Police are investigating, but say that, at the moment, there are no safety issues. The school will not be increasing its security measures as a result of the incident.
“We know that our neighbours stand with us against hate, which has absolutely no place in our community. We value the positive relationships we’ve forged with our neighbours over the years. We must remain vigilant to ensure the perpetrator is brought to justice,” Petersiel said in his statement.
He also made it clear that Leo Baeck would not be intimidated by the graffiti.
“This incident has only redoubled our commitment, as a Jewish International Baccalaureate school, to continue teaching our students to be proud of their Jewish identity and to remain open-minded, tolerant global citizens who think critically about the world,” the statement continued.
“As educators and as parents, we must remain committed to our core values – especially when we face challenges. We will be providing our Grade 5-8 students with an age-appropriate understanding of this incident and its context. Our school social worker will be available for support. Moments like these are unfortunate but real opportunities to talk about current issues.”
In a follow-up phone call, Petersiel said that police are taking the matter seriously and that, between the police and CIJA, the school is in good hands when it comes to evaluating and addressing these kinds of threats.