Toronto (April 26, 2021) - Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC), with the support of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR), today filed a request to intervene in a case before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against Toronto café Foodbenders.
Foodbenders caused outrage last summer when it publicly promoted its discriminatory policy that “Zionists” were not welcome on its premises. On social media and on physical signs in the café, Foodbenders made a number of other antisemitic statements and promoted antisemitic tropes, making it clear that all Jewish people were the target of this policy. In response, FSWC and other human rights organizations successfully pressed suppliers to cancel contracts with Foodbenders due to this unacceptable discrimination, and the café was shuttered in the fall.
A Holocaust survivor has filed a complaint against Foodbenders with the Human Rights Tribunal on the basis that she was discriminated against by Foodbenders as a result of its antisemitic policy to not provide services to Zionists. FSWC, working closely with RWCHR, has filed an application with the Tribunal to intervene in that case in support of the survivor. FSWC hopes this case will set an important legal precedent that discrimination against Jews on the basis of their Zionist identity is unacceptable.
“The overwhelming majority of Canadian Jews consider themselves Zionists. Attachment to and love for the Land of Israel is central to Jewish religious belief and cultural identity, and it always has been. By stating that Zionists were not welcome on its premises, this business was effectively barring entry to Jews. That’s discrimination, and that is completely unacceptable,” said Michael Levitt, President and CEO of FSWC. “We hope the Tribunal will grant our application to intervene in this case in support of the plaintiff and that it will ultimately come to the right determination, that her rights were violated by the discriminatory policy put in place by this business.”
"As a leader in the struggle against all forms of racism and hate - including its oldest and most enduring manifestation, antisemitism - the RWCHR is committed to supporting this timely and important legal intervention,” said Jay Rosenzweig, Chair of the Board of RWCHR. “As we witness an alarming resurgence in acts of antisemitic hate across Canada, we trust that the Tribunal will fulfill its mandate and set an important precedent in the protection and promotion of human rights for all Canadians."