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Petition to Keep Azarova out of the University of Toronto

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KEEP AZAROVA OUT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

 

Edward Iacobucci

Dean, Faculty of Law

Jackman Law Building

University of Toronto

78 Queen’s Park

Toronto, Ontario

M5S 2C5

 

October 2, 2020

 

Dear Dean Iacobucci,

 

We, the undersigned, are comprised of concerned university faculty members, and people from all walks of life, who wish to encourage the University to stand fast in refusing to hire Dr. Valentina Azarova to lead the Faculty of Law’s International Human Rights Program (IHRP). Frankly, we believe that she should not even have been considered as a candidate to lead the IHRP.

 

We recognize that there is much pressure being brought to bear to have the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law employ Dr. Azarova. However, on various grounds, in particular her affiliations with organizations that are themselves affiliated with listed terrorist entities in Canada, we must object profoundly to any prospective appointment of Dr. Azarova, particularly and specifically within the domain of human rights.

 

A recent curriculum vitae of Dr. Azarova clearly states that she was employed on two separate occasions as a Senior Legal Researcher and as an External Legal Advisor and Senior Editor for the Al-Haq organization between 2010-2011 and 2013-2014, respectively, and also acted in a pro bono and/or paid basis with the group Addameer. We believe that for contextual purposes there needs to be more light shed on some of the organizations that Azarova has associated herself with.

 

Addameer’s former deputy director of the board was none other than Khalida Jarrar, a senior operative in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization who was convicted of incitement and promoting terrorist acts in 2015 and most recently arrested in 2019 on suspicions of “involvement in terror activity.”

 

According to the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy, Addameer was not only founded by members of the PFLP, but “continues to maintain significant ties with the PFLP” which includes “members of the NGO who are simultaneously members of the PFLP,” and “joint campaigns with the PFLP,” among other associations. Addameer’s Board Chair Abdullatif Ghaith, was placed under a travel ban in 2018 due to his encouragement of PFLP terrorism and ties to foreign PFLP terrorists. Many other senior members were arrested in recent years for involvement in terrorism, indicating that the entire organization is suffused with former and current PFLP operatives.

 

Al-Haq is led by Shawan Jabarin, a convicted terrorist and former senior operative of the PFLP, and employs other former PFLP operatives to work at Al-Haq. Many of its employees, including Jabarin, have been arrested or served time for terrorism-related offences—a far cry from a commitment to human rights by any stretch of the imagination.

 

More can be said about Dr. Azarova’s concerning affiliations, but it stands to reason that given Dr. Azarova’s associations and professional relationships with such organizations and individuals, it is more than likely that she would wield significant malign influence on prospective staff and students in the program. This would irreparably tarnish the longstanding reputation of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, and the University as a whole.

 

We urge the Faculty of Law to take its commitment to both sound scholarship and the pursuit and defence of human rights seriously, and resist any undue pressure to hire Dr. Azarova for such a sensitive position. For the sake of its students and its well-earned reputation, the Faculty of Law must not hire Dr. Azarova nor consider her candidacy at the very least on the grounds mentioned above.

 

Signed,

 

Professor Stuart B. Kamenetsky, Ph.D. 

Undergraduate Director, Department of Psychology 

University of Toronto Mississauga

 

H. C. Tenenbaum DDS, Dip Perio, PhD, FRCD(C)

Dentist in Chief, Sinai Health System

Professor of Periodontology, Faculty of Dentistry

Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, Faculty of Medicine

University of Toronto

 

CC: 

 

Dr. Meric Gertler

President

University of Toronto

 

Dr. Kelly Hannah-Moffat

Vice-President, Human Resources and Equity

University of Toronto

 

Dr. Cheryl Regehr

Vice-President & Provost

University of Toronto

 

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