Counter-protesters call on U of T to dismantle pro-Palestinian encampment

Counter-protesters confronted pro-Palestinian demonstrators outside their encampment at U of T, calling on the university to take action.

Demonstrators at a rally against hate are calling on the University of Toronto to take action and dismantle the pro-Palestinian encampment at King’s College Circle, saying it’s making Jewish students and faculty feel unsafe.

Organized by several student-affiliated groups, including the U of T Jewish Medical Students Association and Hillel Ontario, more than 100 demonstrators rallied at the U of T campus two blocks from the encampment.

“That is why we’re here today, to advocate for a safe campus, a peaceful campus and one that’s inclusive to all,” said Kayla Saul, a medical student at the university.

“We’ve been around the encampment and have personally seen signs bearing messages like glory to all martyrs and leave Palestine alone and go back to Europe and these promote violence and antisemitism.”

Earlier in the day, a group of students from schools in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta appeared on Parliament Hill to say they are being forced to hide their Jewish identity as they face a tide of antisemitism, which school administrators are failing to protect them from.

Justin Chow is a U of T grad who became an outspoken ally following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

“From that moment onwards I knew that I had a mission, I needed to do something, I needed to get out there to …show them that they have allies.”

But demonstrators say they are not feeling that allyship from the university and after seven days of a growing encampment, the school needs to take action.

“The university has a responsibility to ensure Jewish students are safe, to ensure that they are able to study and work and live on campus, free from harassment, free from intimidation, and they have policies and they have procedures and its time they start following them,” said Jay Solomon, one of the rally organizers with Hillel Ontario.

In a statement issued Wednesday morning, the university said it is continuing to correspond with student representatives for the encampment and is currently focused on its “responsibility for the health, safety, and security of our students.”

Members of the pro-Palestinian encampment say they plan to remain on the campus grounds until the university divests itself from the Israeli government. They say their demonstration is multi-racial, multi-faith and any incidents of concern have happened outside the encampment resulting from counter-protests.

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