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Toronto Law Prof Apologizes after Linking Jewish Judge to Nazi Figure

U of T Law Prof. Mohammad Fadel (University of Toronto Faculty of Law)

Oct. 10, 2021

TORONTO – A University of Toronto law professor says he is “deeply sorry” after juxtaposing a Jewish judge with an infamous Nazi jurist on his Twitter account for months.

As exposed by B’nai Brith Canada on Thursday, Mohammad Fadel’s Twitter profile picture had depicted Justice David Spiro, a Jewish member of Canada’s Tax Court. At the bottom of Spiro’s photo, Fadel wrote the words: “The sovereign is he who decides the exceptions,” a quote from Carl Schmitt, a virulently antisemitic jurist who joined the Nazi Party and facilitated its rise to power in Germany. Under the photo, Fadel wrote, “Schmitt lives in Toronto.”

In a blog post published Saturday, Fadel noted complaints he had received from Jewish lawyers following B’nai Brith’s release, and stated: “I am deeply sorry for the pain that I unintentionally caused them.” Fadel went on to claim that he did not mean to compare Spiro to Schmitt, but rather only to criticize Spiro for supposedly acting according to Schmitt’s ideal of a sovereign. He also asserted that the slogan “Schmitt lives in Toronto” was aimed at the University of Toronto, not Spiro himself. Despite admitting to having these messages on his Twitter profile since April, Fadel had never publicly offered this “explanation” before.

Around the same time that the blog post was published, Fadel also removed the content linking Spiro and Schmitt from his Twitter profile.

“Professor Fadel’s apology and removal of the offensive material is an important first step, and we hope that it is sincere,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “The fact is that as a result of the Azarova controversy, Jewish members of the University of Toronto community have been subjected to multiple incidents of antisemitism, and that needs to stop.

“The University’s failure to tackle or even comment on this issue, despite having been made aware of it months ago, is deeply concerning.”

In June, the President of the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) invoked an antisemitic trope by alleging that an “entitled powerful Zionist minority” was engaged in “psychological warfare” against critics of the Cromwell Report, which examined in part Justice Spiro’s conduct in the Azarova affair. Despite a significant public outcry, the University failed to push back or defend its Jewish professors.

In December of 2020, the University announced with much fanfare the creation of an Antisemitism Working Group. Almost a year later, the Working Group has nothing to show for its efforts, aside from a three-paragraph “Interim Report” of March 2021 that makes no recommendations whatsoever to the University.