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Josh Morry, student who moved the motion to have IAW banned from UMSU controlled space

Shaarey Zedek Synagogue Disinvites Barnard From Reading Holocaust scroll- Did Federation Agree with this? Synagogue No longer Commenting on the record

by Rhonda Spivak, May 1, 2014

The Board of the Shaarey Zedek synagogue made a decision to disinvite the President of the University of Manitoba David Barnard from reading Megillat Hashaoh, a special scroll written in the voice of a survivor, during Holocaust Remembrance Week. They did so after publicity was sent out with Barnard's name as one of the readers of the scroll. 


A copy of the original publicity poster with Barnards's name on it as a reader for Megillat Hashoah  was seen hanging on a University of Manitoba  bulletin board as late as yesterday May 1.  

The Shaarey Zedek took this unprecedented action because of recent events at the University of Manitoba whereby IAW took place on campus, notwithstanding the University of Manitoba's Student Union's (UMSU's) decision to ban IAW from taking place on UMSU controlled space. (For a full background on the events that occurred at U of M regarding IAW, see our earlier article about this which is reprinted in its entirely at the end of this current piece)  


Earl Barish speaking on behalf of B’nai Brith Canada told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that he greatly applauds the decision of  the synagogue to rescind the invitation to Barnard. When he saw Barnard's name listed on an ad for the event, Barish took action to express his strong opposition to Barnard being given the distinction of reading from Megillat Hashoah. He said made a telephone call to another community leader ( who also happened to be board member of Shaarey Zedek) who agreed with him. 


Al Turnball, President of UMSU was invited to read from Megillat Hashoah in place of Barnard.


On April 24,  the WJR learned through a tipster that Barnard had been disinvited. The WJR spoke to Bob Freedman, CEO of the Jewish Federation on April 24 who  said that the Jewish Federation was not involved in any way in making the decision. "No one called us to get our views, opinions, suggestions or background," Freedman said. 

Rabbi Green of Shaarey Zedek Synagogue released a statement only after the Megillat Hashoah event was over.It said that the synagogue "strongly supports" the stance of the University of Manitoba Student's Union and wanted to send a clear message that it did so:


"Shaarey Zedek strongly supports the University student government, in its courageous defense of the safety and dignity of all Jewish students, and all supporters of the State of Israel, at the University of Manitoba.  Let them be an example for university student governments throughout the continent, and throughout the world." 


John Danakas University of Manitoba spokesman, released a statement saying the U of M had a legal opinion that refusing space to Israel Apartheid Week organizers "could be  a violation of the Manitoba ’s human rights code, therefore putting the university at risk of violating that Code."


When asked by the Winnipeg Jewish Review how the synagogue communicated its rescinding of the invitation to Barnard, Green responded "with a terse note from our President ."


Last year, President of University of Winnipeg Lloyd Axworthy was asked to read from Megillat Hashoah, notwithstanding that IAW took place on his campus. 


When asked about this on Wednesday April 29, Ian Staniloff, executive director of Shaarey Zedek Synagogue initially said that he thought that there was no IAW on U of W campus. When the WJR told him that in fact IAW took place on U of W last year as well as this year, Staniloff responded that the situation with U of M was different than U of W since at U of M the student union had taken a strong stance opposing IAW. Staniloff also noted that Axworthy was not invited back this year.

However,Jennifer Rattray, the U of W's associate vice-president for indigenous, government and community affairs did appear as a reader his year.


On April 30, the Winnipeg Jewish Review sent an email to Freedman and David Kroft, President of the Jewish Federation asking whether the Federation agreed or not with the action taken by Shaarey Zedek Synagogue to rescind the invitation of David Barnard.


About two and a hlaf  hours later, Bob Freedman, the CEO of the Federation sent out a statement by email. While the statement referred to the decision by the U of M to rent space to an anti-Israel group as "unfortunate", the statement did not say whether the Federation was in agreement or not with the action taken by Shaarey Zedek Synagogue to rescind Barnard's invitation: 


 “The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg is the duly constituted representative body of the Jewish community of Winnipeg.


We view the University of Manitoba’s decision to rent space to an anti-Israel group as unfortunate and we earlier advised them accordingly. However we wish to reiterate that we have enjoyed a long standing mutually beneficial relationship with the University of Manitoba and its President, David Barnard. We intend to further expand ties between the University and Israeli institutions. Within the next few days, the leadership of the Jewish community and the University of Manitoba will be meeting to discuss issues which affect both the Jewish and broader Winnipeg communities.”


The Winnipeg Jewish Review spoke to Staniloff on May 1, and noted the fact that the Winnipeg Free Press had reported that cancelling Barnard's invitation was supposed to be a private action that was not supposed to be public.The WJR asked Staniloff how it was supposed to be private when the publicity for the event had already gone out not only in the Jewish but in the general community. Staniloff answered, "We no longer feel it appropriate to comment on this matter." 



Although some media reports have indicated that the decision was made by the Shaarey Zedek Board, the Winnipeg Jewish Review is not clear as to whether the full board was involved in making the decision or whether a smaller group of individuals within the synagogue made this decision to disinvite Barnard. The  WJR sent an inquiry to Rabbi Green asking whether or not the full Board or a smaller group made the decision on April 28, but did not receive an answer from Green.


The WJR posed this same question again on May 1 to Staniloff who responded that "We no longer feel it appropriate to comment on this matter and look to move forward based upon a dialogue with Dr. Barnard and the University of Manitoba.


Below is our earlier piece on IAW this year at U of M for reference:




by Rhonda Spivak, March 27, 2014

The administration of the University of Manitoba allowed Israel Apartheid Week to take place on University of Manitoba campus in a location not controlled by the UMSU, (University of Manitoba Student Union) this past week. This is the case, notwithstanding that last year UMSU adopted a motion put forth by Josh Morry, that banned SIAW (Students Against Israel Apartheid) and IAW based which relied on UMSU Policy 2009. 
UMSU Policy 2009 states that “UMSU does not condone behaviour that is likely to undermine the dignity [or] self-esteem … of any of its members.” It further states that “UMSU is committed to an inclusive and respectful work and learning environment free from discrimination or harassment as prohibited in the Manitoba Human Rights Code (the “Code).” 


(Here is the full text of the UMSU resolution dealing with SAIA last year:,%202013.pdf


UMSU adopted Morry's  argument that that by referring to Israel as an apartheid and racist state, SAIA essentially labeled Jews, (the vast majority of whom identify with the state as Zionists), as well as students who are Israeli on campus as “racists,” which is likely to undermine their dignity.  


John Danakas, director of the University of Manitoba's marketing communications office, told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that "Through the conference and catering services of U of M we rent space to internal groups and groups external to the university"


According to Danakas, there was a clerical error and the Winnipeg Coalition against Israel Apartheid (WCIA), a group external to the University originally received permission to hold  IAW on the Fireside Lounge in the first floor of the  UMSU building.


"That was an error as the space is reserved for primarily student events," Danakas said. "So U of M requested that this group move to the fifth floor which is public, non UMSU controlled space."


However Liz Carlyle, co-chair of the WCIA told the Manitoban that she believed they were moved from the Fireside Lounge due to political pressure from UMSU . "We don't think the university had justification or had the justification they said they did. We believe it was a political moved, not a simple administrative, procedural issue as it was portrayed.".”


The WCIA was also allowed to table in university centre, in an area that is a major thoroughfare, as this space is also not controlled by UMSU. 


UMSU President Al Turnbull  told the Jewish Tribune that UMSU objected to what the University Administration did. "This was a way, in my mind, of a student group [SAIA] going around and circumventing our policies to get back into the space. Although it was not SAIA we all know they're under the same front."


According to the Jewish Tribune, UMSU leadership met with David Barnard, president of the University of Manitoba and also wrote a letter "condemning his descision [because] it directly undermined our decision-making a student union." 

Josh Morry criticized the University of Manitoba administration's decision in an email to the Winnipeg Jewish Review, calling on it to change its decision:


"UMSU has done its part by decertifying anti-Israel student groups that run IAW on campus. President David Barnard and the university administration, by failing to uphold their policies that protect students, have allowed anti-Israel groups to declare open season against Israel supporters on campus. It has allowed an unregulated group without a constitution to host Israel Apartheid Week in a public space, and that puts us all at risk. I sincerely hope for our sake that the university begins to enforce its own policies."


However, Danakas explained U of M's decision by saying, "University of Manitoba's responsibility as a public institution of higher learning is to protect academic freedom and freedom of speech and at the same time ensure a safe and respectful work and learning environment. University of Manitoba consulted with legal experts and equity experts. Refusing to rent space to an external group, which is space external groups normally could rent, might expose the University to charges of discrimination."


Danakas  added that "the University  in no way condones or supports the activities of this external group," adding  "I think it’s unfair to frame this issue (IAW) as one that the  University of Manitoba is directly engaged in."


Morry told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that the fact that University of Manitoba administration allowed IAW on space not controlled by UMSU came as asurprise to him.


Judy Zelikovitz, of The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) did not criticize the Univeristy of Manitoba administration for allowing IAW in non-UMSU controlled space. She wrote in an email to the WJR:

"Based on our reading, the [UMSU] resolution [dealing with SAIA last year] did not specifically ban IAW from occurring on campus, rather it removed SAIA’s student group status and banned it from operating in UMSU spaces. Whether SAIA may operate as a recognized student group (and may use student union space) is a distinct issue from whether events organized by other groups in other places on campus may occur during “Israeli Apartheid Week”.


Morry wrote "I'm confident the right decision will be made because the University of Manitoba is governed by the rule of the law and not by unilateral decisions of the president. One way or another the policies of the university will be applied correctly."


According to the Jewish Tribune B'nai Brith Canada sent a letter to the university expressing in which it called on President Barnard to reverse his decision.


According to an article in the Manitoban dated March 18, Liz Carlyle WCAIA co-chair and IAW organizer, said that "this year, WCAIA and SAIA did not encounter any serious attempts to block IAW activities."


Morry noted that UMSU had taken down a sign saying that an IAW event had moved from the Fireside Lounge to room 527 of UMSU since according to the UMSU resolution moved by Morry and adopted by UMSU, IAW was not allowed to be advertised on UMSU space.


In regard to IAW, Zelikovitz added, "In terms of IAW, I encourage you to read (and cite, if it helps) a column our Chair David Koschitzky published last year. While the impact of IAW varies on a campus-by-campus basis, these general trends hold true across the national landscape:
Like all members of our community, we are disgusted by the rhetoric of IAW. At the same time, we are encouraged that Canadian universities are increasing, not decreasing, formal ties with their Israeli counterparts

(such as the recent agreement signed between Israeli and Canadian university associations: )."


Speaking in Winnipeg on March 24, 2014, Mike Fegelman of Honest Reporting said that in Canada "IAW has been greatly marginalized."

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Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.