On Campus

U of T master's thesis calls Holocaust education 'racist'

University defends itself on 'freedom of inquiry' grounds

A University of Toronto student who submitted a master’s thesis that argues Holocaust education is “racist,” is drawing heated criticism against the university for accepting it. In her thesis, Jennifer Peto argues that the March of the Living and the March of Remembrance and Hope programs perpetuate “Jewish victimhood” while obscuring “Jewish privilege,” denying “Jewish racism,” and promoting the “interests of the Israeli nation-state.” Her thesis is titled, “The Victimhood of the Powerful: White Jews, Zionism and the Racism of Hegemonic Holocaust Education.”

Peto criticizes the March of Remembrance and Hope, which takes young Canadians of all backgrounds to Holocaust sites in Poland along with Holocaust survivors, stating that there are “questions about the implications of white Jews taking it upon themselves to educate people of colour about genocide, racism and intolerance.” In response, Carla Wittes, who is a director at the Centre for Canadian Diversity, which runs the program, told the Toronto Star the thesis is offensive. “We are a non-faith-based organization concerned with educating people about the dangers of discrimination, and the Holocaust is obviously a prime example,” she said.

Chery Misak, U of T’s provost defended accepting the thesis, “freedom of inquiry lies at the very heart of our institution” she said. Peto, who is a Jewish activist involved with the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid dismissed criticism to the Star. “This is not the first time I have been dragged through the mud by pro-Israel groups and I am sure it will not be that last,” she said.

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