President, University of Toronto
Chair, Membership Committee
University of Toronto Faculty Association
Dear esteemed leaders,
For the past year and a half, Jewish faculty members at the University of Toronto have been sounding the alarm about unchecked antisemitism on campus.
With the support of B’nai Brith Canada and other Jewish organizations and synagogues, we have repeatedly drawn attention to the untold story of the increasingly hostile environment that Jewish students, faculty, and staff face, evermore overtly, at the University of Toronto. Our community town hall event discussing the situation has been viewed by nearly 4000 people.
Furthermore, U of T’s president, Meric Gertler, acknowledged in December 2020 that antisemitism is one of the forms of “systemic racism” that the university bears a responsibility to deal with.
But the problem has not gone away.
Recently, a letter by David Matas, B’nai Brith’s Senior Legal Counsel, revealed that a series of disturbing and bigoted comments have been made by the president of the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA). These comments were patently and quite frighteningly antisemitic.
Speaking at an event on June 15, 2021, the UTFA President engaged in familiar, age-old antisemitic conspiracy myths and smears – alleging that an “entitled powerful Zionist minority” is engaging in “psychological warfare” on campus. At the same time, she also dismissed the legitimacy of the Jewish community’s concerns about growing hatred towards them – itself an act of erasive antisemitism.
It is lamentable that once again one of the most highly respected universities in the world is being dragged down into the pit of antisemitism, this time by the leader of an organization that should be focused on the well-being of all university faculty and librarians. Even more worrisome is the fact that many of the members of UTFA are the very targets of her antisemitic language and actions and are even paying dues to the very organization (UTFA) that is attacking them.
It is unacceptable for the university to allow blatantly hateful, problematic, and anti-inclusive comments to go without consequence.
We, the undersigned, are calling for the following three courses of action, as recommended by Mr. Matas in his letter to the administration:
- The UTFA President should be asked to resign.
- Our esteemed university should distance itself publicly from the remarks in question.
- CAUT should reconsider its censure of the University of Toronto in light of the publicly expressed views of the UTFA President.
Academic freedom is a core value that we all share. Everyone on campus has the right to free speech and free expression – but that does not give anyone a license to shut down debate, engage in antisemitic rhetoric, or spout off bigoted and false statements about a group of their peers.
Stuart B. Kamenetsky, Ph.D.
Professor, Teaching Stream
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 Denistry
Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, Faculty of Medicine
University of Toronto
Louis Florence, M.Sc., MBA, PhD (retired)
Department of Management
University of Toronto, Mississauga
Treasurer UTFA (2017-2020)
Gillian Einstein, PhD
Professor of Psychology