Downtown Concerned Citizens Organization

Currently on home assignment, TDSB educator Javier Davila claims he’s being persecuted for his views

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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.)=

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.

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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.

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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

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