Public Education in 2020

spaminator

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LEVY: TDSB petition portrays anti-Israeli manual author as a hero
Author of the article:Sue-Ann Levy
Publishing date:May 25, 2021 • 10 hours ago • 4 minute read • 22 Comments
TDSB educator Javier DaVila is under investigation after allegedly emailing an anti-Semitic manual to teachers that glorifies terrorists and recommends children's books that characterize Israelis as thieves and murderer.
TDSB educator Javier DaVila is under investigation after allegedly emailing an anti-Semitic manual to teachers that glorifies terrorists and recommends children's books that characterize Israelis as thieves and murderer. PHOTO BY JAVIER DAVILA /Twitter
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Mere hours after a Toronto Sun story appeared decrying a virulent 51-page anti-Israel manual sent out to teachers by Javier Davila, a student equity program advisor with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), a petition was posted demanding justice for “anti-oppressive educators” like him who “demonstrate a commitment to decolonization.”

The four-page petition, still online and signed by at least 1,600 teachers and activists so far, demands that TDSB officials “not deign to respond to the incredibly biased reporting of known hate groups (implying the Toronto Sun) and release a statement condemning Israel’s (alleged) illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine.”


There is no mention in the petition of any attacks by Hamas on innocent Israelis with more than 4,000 missiles or on innocent Palestinians reportedly used as human shields.

Davila — who has not responded to Toronto Sun requests for comment — wrote a blog on Sunday in which he called himself “a courageous queer Latine guy with CPTSD” who openly challenges the status quo.

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A four-page petition demands TDSB officials “not deign to respond to the incredibly biased reporting of known hate groups and release a statement condemning Israel’s illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine.”
A four-page petition demands TDSB officials “not deign to respond to the incredibly biased reporting of known hate groups and release a statement condemning Israel’s illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine.”
In it, he admits he sent out two manuals — one on May 16 and another on May 19 — in which he “curated” resources for educators specific to Israel and Palestine, many with often (allegedly) “erased Palestinian voices.”


The two manuals are shockingly outrageous in their bias against Israel, recommending, for example, children’s books that portray Israelis as murderers and thieves and other books and documentaries by and on known terrorists.

In an attempt to perhaps offset or excuse the anti-Israel content, included is a four-page primer on anti-Semitism noting that even “contentious, strident or harsh criticism of Israel of its policies — including those that led to the creation of Israel — is not per se anti-Semitic.”

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The first manual, sent out May 16, alleges that Canada, with its support for Israel, is an architect of apartheid; promotes NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s calls to block arms sales to Israel and includes a one-sided article on the May 15 pro-Palestinian protest at Nathan Phillips Square which makes no mention of Jewish onlookers allegedly being beaten.

In his blog, Davila claims he’s included articles that “don’t shy away from using the terms, ‘illegal occupation,’ ‘ethnic cleansing,’ ‘apartheid’ and ‘colonial project’.”

“The discourse on Israel and Palestine has become binary and it is not nuanced, in spite of a clear power imbalance and documented skewed coverage,” he writes, seemingly unapologetic about his skewed bias against Israel and his curation of hateful messaging about the Jewish state.

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The online teachers sites and Twitter feeds were buzzing with support for Davila all weekend, along with attempts to silence Jewish teachers who tried to provide a view of why the resources are hateful.

Aside from the anti-Israel propaganda, it was shocking even to me of how far afield some TDSB teachers have gone from teaching the basics to kids. It is little wonder, in my view, that many TDSB students perform so poorly on standardized reading, writing, and math tests.

B’nai Brith executive director Michael Mostyn called it “disturbing” to see TDSB teachers signing this petition.

He said the TDSB should broaden its investigations to probe whether teachers are bringing the same attitudes into their classrooms.

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“There is no doubt that Mr. Davila promoted materials written by and glorifying terrorists…his ongoing refusal to apologize to the Jewish community or to take accountability for his own actions bodes ill for his future as a TDSB employee,” Mostyn said.

Hasbara executive director Daniel Koren said it’s “sad and disheartening” to see so much “biased” one-sided anti-Israel propaganda in these two documents.

TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird said Tuesday online comments from staff members — personal or professional — do not reflect the views of the TDSB and all staff are encouraged to ensure that content associated with them is consistent with their work under board policies.

Staff will review each allegation of online hate on a case-by-case basis and take any appropriate action, he said, noting there is also a social media policy set out by the Ontario College of Teachers.

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He said nothing about plans to remove the petition.

Caitlin Clark, speaking on behalf of Education Minister Stephen Lecce, said the minister “has been clear – all forms of hate, racism and discrimination have no place in Canada.”

Examples of teacher tweets and online chat:

– Martha Lang, a vice-principal at Perth Ave. Jr. Public School:

If you have ever learned and/or unlearned from resources, you should be signing this petition.

– Pia Berger, a virtual secondary school teacher who administers a TDSB teachers chat site (and blocked me on Twitter) says to one woman who argues that anti-Semitism is real and there are two sides to the conflict:
“That’s an incredibly dishonest and morally bankrupt stance. It’s despicable to talk about genocide as if there’s two sides or to use misleading words like ‘conflict.’ The Israeli state is oppressing Palestinians.”
– Derek Chica, a high school teacher at the Emery Adult Learning Centre warns secondary school teachers:
SAL’s articles have been used to feed hate. By sending her screenshots, there are colleagues, coworkers, who could now be the target of hate…Don’t feed hate…Our posts, our activism, and anti-oppressive and equity-focused teaching, is grounded in care for our students.”
SLevy@postmedia.com
 

taxslave

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Nov 25, 2008
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LEVY: TDSB petition portrays anti-Israeli manual author as a hero
Author of the article:Sue-Ann Levy
Publishing date:May 25, 2021 • 10 hours ago • 4 minute read • 22 Comments
TDSB educator Javier DaVila is under investigation after allegedly emailing an anti-Semitic manual to teachers that glorifies terrorists and recommends children's books that characterize Israelis as thieves and murderer.
TDSB educator Javier DaVila is under investigation after allegedly emailing an anti-Semitic manual to teachers that glorifies terrorists and recommends children's books that characterize Israelis as thieves and murderer. PHOTO BY JAVIER DAVILA /Twitter
Article content
Mere hours after a Toronto Sun story appeared decrying a virulent 51-page anti-Israel manual sent out to teachers by Javier Davila, a student equity program advisor with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), a petition was posted demanding justice for “anti-oppressive educators” like him who “demonstrate a commitment to decolonization.”

The four-page petition, still online and signed by at least 1,600 teachers and activists so far, demands that TDSB officials “not deign to respond to the incredibly biased reporting of known hate groups (implying the Toronto Sun) and release a statement condemning Israel’s (alleged) illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine.”


There is no mention in the petition of any attacks by Hamas on innocent Israelis with more than 4,000 missiles or on innocent Palestinians reportedly used as human shields.

Davila — who has not responded to Toronto Sun requests for comment — wrote a blog on Sunday in which he called himself “a courageous queer Latine guy with CPTSD” who openly challenges the status quo.

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A four-page petition demands TDSB officials “not deign to respond to the incredibly biased reporting of known hate groups and release a statement condemning Israel’s illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine.”
A four-page petition demands TDSB officials “not deign to respond to the incredibly biased reporting of known hate groups and release a statement condemning Israel’s illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine.”
In it, he admits he sent out two manuals — one on May 16 and another on May 19 — in which he “curated” resources for educators specific to Israel and Palestine, many with often (allegedly) “erased Palestinian voices.”


The two manuals are shockingly outrageous in their bias against Israel, recommending, for example, children’s books that portray Israelis as murderers and thieves and other books and documentaries by and on known terrorists.

In an attempt to perhaps offset or excuse the anti-Israel content, included is a four-page primer on anti-Semitism noting that even “contentious, strident or harsh criticism of Israel of its policies — including those that led to the creation of Israel — is not per se anti-Semitic.”

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The first manual, sent out May 16, alleges that Canada, with its support for Israel, is an architect of apartheid; promotes NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s calls to block arms sales to Israel and includes a one-sided article on the May 15 pro-Palestinian protest at Nathan Phillips Square which makes no mention of Jewish onlookers allegedly being beaten.

In his blog, Davila claims he’s included articles that “don’t shy away from using the terms, ‘illegal occupation,’ ‘ethnic cleansing,’ ‘apartheid’ and ‘colonial project’.”

“The discourse on Israel and Palestine has become binary and it is not nuanced, in spite of a clear power imbalance and documented skewed coverage,” he writes, seemingly unapologetic about his skewed bias against Israel and his curation of hateful messaging about the Jewish state.

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The online teachers sites and Twitter feeds were buzzing with support for Davila all weekend, along with attempts to silence Jewish teachers who tried to provide a view of why the resources are hateful.

Aside from the anti-Israel propaganda, it was shocking even to me of how far afield some TDSB teachers have gone from teaching the basics to kids. It is little wonder, in my view, that many TDSB students perform so poorly on standardized reading, writing, and math tests.

B’nai Brith executive director Michael Mostyn called it “disturbing” to see TDSB teachers signing this petition.

He said the TDSB should broaden its investigations to probe whether teachers are bringing the same attitudes into their classrooms.

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“There is no doubt that Mr. Davila promoted materials written by and glorifying terrorists…his ongoing refusal to apologize to the Jewish community or to take accountability for his own actions bodes ill for his future as a TDSB employee,” Mostyn said.

Hasbara executive director Daniel Koren said it’s “sad and disheartening” to see so much “biased” one-sided anti-Israel propaganda in these two documents.

TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird said Tuesday online comments from staff members — personal or professional — do not reflect the views of the TDSB and all staff are encouraged to ensure that content associated with them is consistent with their work under board policies.

Staff will review each allegation of online hate on a case-by-case basis and take any appropriate action, he said, noting there is also a social media policy set out by the Ontario College of Teachers.

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He said nothing about plans to remove the petition.

Caitlin Clark, speaking on behalf of Education Minister Stephen Lecce, said the minister “has been clear – all forms of hate, racism and discrimination have no place in Canada.”

Examples of teacher tweets and online chat:

– Martha Lang, a vice-principal at Perth Ave. Jr. Public School:

If you have ever learned and/or unlearned from resources, you should be signing this petition.

– Pia Berger, a virtual secondary school teacher who administers a TDSB teachers chat site (and blocked me on Twitter) says to one woman who argues that anti-Semitism is real and there are two sides to the conflict:
“That’s an incredibly dishonest and morally bankrupt stance. It’s despicable to talk about genocide as if there’s two sides or to use misleading words like ‘conflict.’ The Israeli state is oppressing Palestinians.”
– Derek Chica, a high school teacher at the Emery Adult Learning Centre warns secondary school teachers:
SAL’s articles have been used to feed hate. By sending her screenshots, there are colleagues, coworkers, who could now be the target of hate…Don’t feed hate…Our posts, our activism, and anti-oppressive and equity-focused teaching, is grounded in care for our students.”
SLevy@postmedia.com
WHo let these racists teach our kids?
 
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Dixie Cup

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LEVY: TDSB petition portrays anti-Israeli manual author as a hero
Author of the article:Sue-Ann Levy
Publishing date:May 25, 2021 • 10 hours ago • 4 minute read • 22 Comments
TDSB educator Javier DaVila is under investigation after allegedly emailing an anti-Semitic manual to teachers that glorifies terrorists and recommends children's books that characterize Israelis as thieves and murderer.
TDSB educator Javier DaVila is under investigation after allegedly emailing an anti-Semitic manual to teachers that glorifies terrorists and recommends children's books that characterize Israelis as thieves and murderer. PHOTO BY JAVIER DAVILA /Twitter
Article content
Mere hours after a Toronto Sun story appeared decrying a virulent 51-page anti-Israel manual sent out to teachers by Javier Davila, a student equity program advisor with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), a petition was posted demanding justice for “anti-oppressive educators” like him who “demonstrate a commitment to decolonization.”

The four-page petition, still online and signed by at least 1,600 teachers and activists so far, demands that TDSB officials “not deign to respond to the incredibly biased reporting of known hate groups (implying the Toronto Sun) and release a statement condemning Israel’s (alleged) illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine.”


There is no mention in the petition of any attacks by Hamas on innocent Israelis with more than 4,000 missiles or on innocent Palestinians reportedly used as human shields.

Davila — who has not responded to Toronto Sun requests for comment — wrote a blog on Sunday in which he called himself “a courageous queer Latine guy with CPTSD” who openly challenges the status quo.

Advertisement
STORY CONTINUES BELOW

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Article content
A four-page petition demands TDSB officials “not deign to respond to the incredibly biased reporting of known hate groups and release a statement condemning Israel’s illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine.”
A four-page petition demands TDSB officials “not deign to respond to the incredibly biased reporting of known hate groups and release a statement condemning Israel’s illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine.”
In it, he admits he sent out two manuals — one on May 16 and another on May 19 — in which he “curated” resources for educators specific to Israel and Palestine, many with often (allegedly) “erased Palestinian voices.”


The two manuals are shockingly outrageous in their bias against Israel, recommending, for example, children’s books that portray Israelis as murderers and thieves and other books and documentaries by and on known terrorists.

In an attempt to perhaps offset or excuse the anti-Israel content, included is a four-page primer on anti-Semitism noting that even “contentious, strident or harsh criticism of Israel of its policies — including those that led to the creation of Israel — is not per se anti-Semitic.”

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The first manual, sent out May 16, alleges that Canada, with its support for Israel, is an architect of apartheid; promotes NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s calls to block arms sales to Israel and includes a one-sided article on the May 15 pro-Palestinian protest at Nathan Phillips Square which makes no mention of Jewish onlookers allegedly being beaten.

In his blog, Davila claims he’s included articles that “don’t shy away from using the terms, ‘illegal occupation,’ ‘ethnic cleansing,’ ‘apartheid’ and ‘colonial project’.”

“The discourse on Israel and Palestine has become binary and it is not nuanced, in spite of a clear power imbalance and documented skewed coverage,” he writes, seemingly unapologetic about his skewed bias against Israel and his curation of hateful messaging about the Jewish state.

Advertisement
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Article content
The online teachers sites and Twitter feeds were buzzing with support for Davila all weekend, along with attempts to silence Jewish teachers who tried to provide a view of why the resources are hateful.

Aside from the anti-Israel propaganda, it was shocking even to me of how far afield some TDSB teachers have gone from teaching the basics to kids. It is little wonder, in my view, that many TDSB students perform so poorly on standardized reading, writing, and math tests.

B’nai Brith executive director Michael Mostyn called it “disturbing” to see TDSB teachers signing this petition.

He said the TDSB should broaden its investigations to probe whether teachers are bringing the same attitudes into their classrooms.

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“There is no doubt that Mr. Davila promoted materials written by and glorifying terrorists…his ongoing refusal to apologize to the Jewish community or to take accountability for his own actions bodes ill for his future as a TDSB employee,” Mostyn said.

Hasbara executive director Daniel Koren said it’s “sad and disheartening” to see so much “biased” one-sided anti-Israel propaganda in these two documents.

TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird said Tuesday online comments from staff members — personal or professional — do not reflect the views of the TDSB and all staff are encouraged to ensure that content associated with them is consistent with their work under board policies.

Staff will review each allegation of online hate on a case-by-case basis and take any appropriate action, he said, noting there is also a social media policy set out by the Ontario College of Teachers.

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He said nothing about plans to remove the petition.

Caitlin Clark, speaking on behalf of Education Minister Stephen Lecce, said the minister “has been clear – all forms of hate, racism and discrimination have no place in Canada.”

Examples of teacher tweets and online chat:

– Martha Lang, a vice-principal at Perth Ave. Jr. Public School:

If you have ever learned and/or unlearned from resources, you should be signing this petition.

– Pia Berger, a virtual secondary school teacher who administers a TDSB teachers chat site (and blocked me on Twitter) says to one woman who argues that anti-Semitism is real and there are two sides to the conflict:
“That’s an incredibly dishonest and morally bankrupt stance. It’s despicable to talk about genocide as if there’s two sides or to use misleading words like ‘conflict.’ The Israeli state is oppressing Palestinians.”
– Derek Chica, a high school teacher at the Emery Adult Learning Centre warns secondary school teachers:
SAL’s articles have been used to feed hate. By sending her screenshots, there are colleagues, coworkers, who could now be the target of hate…Don’t feed hate…Our posts, our activism, and anti-oppressive and equity-focused teaching, is grounded in care for our students.”
SLevy@postmedia.com
In other words, they want TDSB to brainwash our kids the same as Hamas does with theirs. We're doing Hamas' work for them. Teaching our kids to be callus, inconsiderate, selfish & ignorant. That's going to work out real well for the vast majority of Canadians but Lord help the Jews. It's despicable & unconscionable is what it is. And it will eventually bite us in the ass!!
 
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spaminator

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Oct 26, 2009
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MANDEL: "Where's Jeremiah?" after non-swimmer disappears during Algonquin Park student trip
Classmates recall final moments before Jeremiah Perry slipped beneath lake's surface

Author of the article:Michele Mandel
Publishing date:May 27, 2021 • 6 hours ago • 3 minute read • Join the conversation
Jeremiah Perry is seen in this undated photo.
Jeremiah Perry is seen in this undated photo.
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“Where’s Jeremiah?”

The heart-stopping, panic-inducing question would soon tear through the remote Algonquin Park island where a group of inexperienced Toronto high school students were on a six-day wilderness canoe trip in July 2017.

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This was C.W. Jeffreys teacher Nicholas Mills’ fifth year running the REACH summer school program to expose inner-city, at-risk youth to nature.

One of his kids was missing.


Jeremiah Perry, 15, didn’t know how to swim and had failed his required swim test.

And yet court has heard he was in the water without a lifejacket.

Mills, 57, has pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death.

The Crown alleges he didn’t properly safeguard Jeremiah and the other students he took on the risk-filled trip.

Despite a Toronto District School Board requirement that they must pass a swim test as a prerequisite to go on the canoe trip, 15 of the 33 participants had failed — Jeremiah among them.

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Alexander Panteleev, one of the few students on the REACH trip who was a strong swimmer, recalled seeing Jeremiah wading into shin-deep water off their island campsite on Big Trout Lake.

“I remember the water was cold so he was kind of hesitant to get in,” he testified Thursday.

“He was just taking his time.”

Panteleev, 16 at the time, remembers they were fooling around and splashing each other before he left Jeremiah to swim.

The bottom was rocky, he recalled, and dropped off as he went deeper.

Ariel Hart-Hypolite, 14 at the time, had also gone swimming that day after Mills announced that they could finally go in the water before dinner.

She testified that while life jackets were mandatory while canoeing, she “believed they were optional” while swimming.

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A lifeguard on their trip was watching over the students from atop a rock, she said.

Hart-Hypolite knew Jeremiah from her French class and noticed him being splashed as she entered the water in her lifejacket.

She soon returned to shore.


“I realized that once my foot wasn’t touching the ground … it did scare me a little bit because it dropped off so far down so I decided to come back to shallower water,” she explained.

Hart-Hypolite took off her lifejacket and went back in to float around in the shallow water.

About five to 10 minutes later, Mills told them to get out of the lake — Jeremiah was missing.

“Everyone went searching for him,” she recalled.

Panteleev couldn’t remember if Jeremiah had been wearing a lifejacket or if there was a rule that you had to wear it while swimming.

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As a strong swimmer himself, he didn’t wear one.

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Jeremiah Perry is seen in this undated photo.
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Jeremiah Perry is seen in this undated photo. Handout
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When he returned to shore to tie up his long hair, he saw Mills in the water asking if anyone had seen Jeremiah.

Panteleev recalled another student said he’d felt something touch his foot.

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“Everybody got out of the water,” he said, “and we went out on a search.”

But Jeremiah was nowhere on land. He had slipped under the water, undetected.

His body was found the next day by an OPP diver.

Under cross examination, defence lawyer Phil Campbell pointed out that Mills was helping Panteleev, who was struggling in school, by offering him not only the credit that came with going on the canoe trip but another credit for acting as a leader-mentor.

Panteleev could only recall that he wanted to go because he enjoyed the outdoors and any credits were a bonus.

The lawyer then suggested that he told Mills he’d taken lifeguard training while on vacation in Russia the previous summer and he could use that qualification to “step up” and be a leader on the canoe trip.

Was the lawyer really trying to suggest that somehow a student was responsible for watching Jeremiah?

If that was his insinuation, Panteleev wasn’t having it.

“I wasn’t going to be a lifeguard,” he insisted.

“I was just going on the trip.”

The judge-alone trial continues.

mmandel@postmedia.com
 

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
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LEVY: TDSB educator still tweeting virulent anti-Israel messages
Currently on home assignment, TDSB educator Javier Davila claims he's being persecuted for his views

Author of the article:Sue-Ann Levy
Publishing date:May 27, 2021 • 6 hours ago • 3 minute read • 12 Comments
Pro-Palestine supporters take part in a protest in Toronto, Ontario, Canada May 15, 2021.
Pro-Palestine supporters take part in a protest in Toronto, Ontario, Canada May 15, 2021. PHOTO BY CHRIS HELGREN /Reuters
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Although he’s officially on home assignment, educator Javier Davila is still filling his Twitter page with anti-Israel messages amid claims he’s being punished for having the courage to engage in difficult conversations.

And the student equity program advisor — who calls himself a “courageous queer Latine guy” suffering from CPTSD — has found himself plenty of support from the usual union suspects with CUPE, CUPW and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) — all of whom have backed the hateful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel.)=

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CUPE Ontario has supported BDS since 2006, CUPW since 2008 and CFS voting to endorse the movement in 2018.


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An online petition signed by several pro-Palestinian special interest groups and CUPE — posted Sunday — now has 3,200 signatures and a new introductory page, claiming the TDSB has censored opinion on Palestine.

That couldn’t be further from the truth since the petition is still going strong.


It asks that the board support DaVila and other educators who demonstrate a commitment to anti-oppression and decolonization and makes such scurrilous demands as insisting that the TDSB release a statement “condemning Israel’s illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine.”

A TDSB investigation into two virulently anti-Israel set of resources DaVila sent out to teachers on May 16 and 19 hasn’t stopped him from retweeting or tweeting his own anti-Israel comments, however.


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In fact he thanked the author of this tweet on Israel’s alleged “ethnic cleansing” saying the conversation needs to be re-centred to a focus on “ethnic cleansing and illegal occupation.” He continued his tweet by indicating any attempts at silencing him will only make him louder.

In another tweet, he remarks about the photo used of him by the Toronto Sun.


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While claiming in a blog posted Sunday that he regularly navigates “courageous (and difficult) conversations,” Davila did not respond to four attempts by the Toronto Sun to speak with him.

TDSB teachers who spoke with the Sun on condition of anonymity, for fear of being bullied by the allegedly “woke” supporters of this anti-Israel stance, said they’re anxious and feared this was diverting from challenges they’ve already faced teaching their students online because of COVID lockdowns.

Lawyer Robert Karrass said as a school board, the TDSB may be “liable” for the emotional harm to students, families, and other teachers caused by employing someone who, in his view, is using their position to “promote hatred” and suggested that disciplinary review is certainly appropriate.

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He said when you’re providing “carefully curated” materials that reinforce negative stereotypes of any group, you promote the vilification of that group which in turn promotes hate.


With respect to the petition, he said “that while free speech rights are important, hate speech should not be tolerated. To protect freedom of speech is entirely appropriate, even when that speech strongly disagrees with your own opinion. But, the signatories of the petition are demanding that the TDSB take an anti-Israel stance which exacerbates a hatred of Israelis with very little understanding of a complex situation taking place thousands of miles away.”

In an attempt to perhaps offset or excuse the anti-Israel content in the manual, it ends with a four-page primer on anti-Semitism noting that even “contentious, strident or harsh criticism of Israel of its policies — including those that led to the creation of Israel — is not “per se anti-Semitic.”

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TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird said the TDSB does not have control, nor can it monitor, the social media posts, likes or, shares of their staff members.

He said just recently, in a message shared with all staff on the crisis in the Middle East, they encouraged “compassionate, caring and respectful conversations” in their school communities.

“Should any staff member be found to be in violation of board policies or is found to be making hateful or discriminatory comments online, we will investigate and take appropriate action,” he said.

Bird reiterated the staff member in question is currently on home assignment and they’re aiming to conclude their investigation as soon as possible.

SLevy@postmedia.com
 

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
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MANDEL: Key witness to Jeremiah Perry's 2017 Algonquin Park drowning refuses to testify
Boran Balci, now 21, doesn't want to relive the nightmare of losing his then 15-year-old friend

Author of the article:Michele Mandel
Publishing date:Jun 03, 2021 • 1 hour ago • 3 minute read • Join the conversation
Jeremiah Perry is seen in this undated photo.
Jeremiah Perry is seen in this undated photo.
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He now knows it was his drowning friend who was pulling at his legs that evening, trying desperately to save himself as he gasped his final breaths.

No wonder he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.


Boran Balci is an important witness. He was swimming in Big Trout Lake on the ill-fated Toronto District School Board canoe trip to Algonquin Park four summers ago where 15-year-old Jeremiah Perry drowned.

C.W. Jeffreys teacher Nicholas Mills, who organized and led the wilderness excursion for at-risk youth, is currently on trial and has pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death.

But court learned Thursday that Balci, now 21, refuses to testify at Mills’ trial despite two subpoenas and countless attempts by the Ontario Provincial Police to contact him over the last five weeks.

Justice Maureen Forestell agreed to a Crown request for a material witness subpoena to be executed June 10, giving the young man another week to reconsider.

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Det.-Const. Barry Nisbet told the judge that when Balci finally returned one of his many calls several weeks ago, he said he doesn’t want to relive the incident anymore and doesn’t want to come to court.

It’s hard to blame him.

“He has bad dreams and memories,” he said. “He goes to the cemetery where Jeremiah is.”

It was July 4, 2017, and after days of canoeing and camping without a shower, many in the group of 33 students asked Mills if they could go swimming, court heard.

Jahliel Lewis, a 19-year-old student at Westview Centennial Secondary School at the time, testified Mills agreed to their swim once they finished setting up camp. As they gathered at the campsite, he recalled the teacher warned them that the lake had rocks that were slippery with moss, others were sharp and there was sudden drop off, but he “wasn’t sure where.”

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Without a lifejacket, Lewis waded in, wearing his shoes. He and his friends were splashing around at first, he said. Jeremiah was with them.

And then he wasn’t.

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Lewis said he and a few others had swum out to where Mills was treading water. They were talking about how deep the water might be.

“He said he didn’t know,” testified Lewis, now 23. “From a certain point when you walk off the shore, it’s a big drop.”

His conversation with the teacher was soon interrupted with a grab to his shoulder.

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“Boran came from behind us and grabbed Mr. Mills’ left shoulder and my right shoulder,” he recalled.

Frightened, he turned around quickly. It was Balci. And he was terrified.

“He felt something grab both his legs and start pulling him down in the water,” Lewis testified.

Lewis made a joke about getting out of the water if there were any lake monsters lurking about. But it wasn’t a mythical creature. It was a drowning boy.

But they didn’t know that then. Jeremiah’s body was found by an OPP diver the next day at the edge of the steep drop off.

Jeremiah’s mother has testified that her son didn’t know how to swim. Court has heard that like 15 other students, he had failed the mandatory swim test that TDSB policy required before going on the trip.

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The Crown alleges Mills failed in his duty of care by allowing those students to come on the challenging six-day trip to the backcountry provincial park. Even worse, they argue, he allowed the non-swimmer to be in the lake without a lifejacket.

The defence maintains Mills took all reasonable precautions and Jeremiah was able to swim.

After Balci’s disturbing report, Lewis said they began looking around and realized they didn’t see Jeremiah in the water or by the shore. Mills told everyone to get out of the lake and Lewis and some other students went to search the woods. He was nowhere to be found.

After their lifeguard on duty couldn’t find Jeremiah, Lewis said they went to get the second lifeguard with the other group of students. They were so desperate that they gathered some flashlights and put them in a plastic bag so he could see as he dove into the dark water.

But it didn’t help. Jeremiah was gone.

The trial continues.

mmandel@postmedia.com
 

bob the dog

Electoral Member
Aug 14, 2020
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Ontario calls it a day on the school year. Pass everyone, have a great summer. Nothing accomplished, $25 billion spent.

Start again in September.

Step one is admitting there is a problem.
 
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