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Academics in Canada Speak Out


April 29th 2002

Dear Colleague,

In the context of the current atrocities perpetrated against the Palestinians by the Israeli state and army, we, Canadian scholars meeting at the First National Conference on Critical Race Scholarship and the University, find it imperative to stand up and denounce these crimes against humanity and to call for action from our colleagues and professional organizations.

We urge you to join us in this initiative by immediately circulating the attached Resolution to your colleagues so that we can make our voices heard nationally and internationally. The resolution has already been signed by professors from several Canadian universities. We need to gather as many signatures as possible within the next week. Please ensure that your colleague's position, name and affiliation are sent to:

At this critical juncture, we believe it is essential for intellectuals and scholars to speak up against the Israeli re-invasion of the Occupied Territories and to support the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.


Sherene Razack

Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies



Critical Race Scholarship and the University
First National Conference, April 27, 2002

The Honourable Jean Chretien, Prime Minister
The Honourable Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Chancellors and Presidents of Canadian Universities

We share the growing alarm among independent international organizations such as Amnesty International, the Red Cross and other human rights agencies, that Israel's most recent invasion and re-occupation of the Occupied Territories has violated international conventions on human rights. We note that a U.N mission was to be dispatched to report on the possibility that massacres and crimes against humanity have been perpetrated by the Israeli army at Jenin and the old city of Nablus. Many independent eye witness accounts have spoken about "atrocities beyond belief".

The Palestinians have recognized the legitimate existence of the State of Israel. They have already been made to renounce 78% of their historical lands. They have an absolute right to be liberated from occupation and immediately enjoy their own internationally- recognized sovereign state.

The creation of the Palestinian state can no longer appear as a reward, to be granted by the occupying power for "marks of good will" which are always likely to be declared insufficient. On the contrary, it should be a first decisive step, a minimum prerequisite which makes it possible to engage in bilateral negotiations and offer mutual guarantees for peace and security.

In the context of the ongoing destruction of Palestinian infrastructure and civil society institutions, educational institutions have been specifically targeted and devastated. Education is the lifeblood of future generations. The deliberate destruction of Palestinian educational institutions must be stopped and efforts to rebuild them must begin immediately.

To this end, we, as Canadian scholars and educators, call on the Canadian government to publicly and unequivocally demand the immediate and unilateral withdrawal of all Israeli military forces from the Palestinian Occupied Territories, the dismantling of illegal settlements, and the recognition of Palestinian refugees' right to return. We call on the Canadian government to respond to Israel's non-compliance with international law and all U.N resolutions.

It is our responsibility as scholars and educators to support our colleagues and fellow educators in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the process of rebuilding their institutions and civil society.

Therefore, we resolve that Canadian scholars and educators should

1. Send a fact-finding mission to the Occupied Palestinian Territories to assess the damage to Palestinian Society and especially to educational institutions.

2. Initiate education exchange programs with Palestinian academic institutions and research centres, similar to the already existing programs with Israeli educational institutions.

3. Invite Palestinian scholars to Canadian universities to engage in a meaningful and productive discussion and exchange of knowledge and experiences.

4. Demand Canadian faculty associations to demonstrate their solidarity with the Palestinians by financially supporting the above project.


Professor Himani Bannerji, York University
Professor Sherene Razack, OISE/University of Toronto
Professor Roxana Ng, OISE/University of Toronto
Professor Radha Jhappan, Carleton University
Professor Joanne St. Lewis, University of Ottawa
Professor Sedef Arat-Koc, Trent University
Professor Mustafa Koc, Ryerson University
Professor Arnold Itwaru, University of Toronto
Professor Aruna Srivastava, University of Calgary
Professor Feyzi Baban, Trent University
Professor Deborah Brock , York Univesity
Professor Mona Oikawa, University of Manitoba
Professor Sarah Mailer,Wilfrid Laurier University
Professor Kathryn Morgan, University of Toronto
Professor Shahrzad Mojab, OISE/University of Toronto
Professor Daiva Stasiulis, Carleton University
Professor Amir Hassanpour, University of Toronto
Professor Kiran Mirchandani, OISE/University of Toronto
Professor Enakshi Dua, York University
Professor Nahla Abdo, Carleton University
Professor Rinaldo Walcott, York University
Professor Maureen Fitzgerald, University of Toronto
Professor Maureen Ford, University of Toronto
Professor Ashok Mathur, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design
Professor Gillian Walker, Carleton University
Professor Ramabai Espinet, University of Toronto
Professor Sunera Thobani , University of British Columbia
Professor Vanaja Dhruvarajan, University of Winnipeg
Professor Sara Abraham, University of Toronto
Professor Alissa Trutz, OISE/University of Toronto
Professor Jody Nysha Warner, York University
Professor Louise Saldanha, Grande Prairie Regional College
Professor Narda Razack, York University
Professor George Dei, OISE/University of Toronto
Professor Nombuso Dlamini, Mount St. Vincent University
Professor Eileen M. Antone, OISE/University of Toronto
Professor Heather Sykes, OISE/University of Toronto


University of Toronto professors attack Israel for 'atrocities'

By John Turley-Ewart
National Post (Canada)
August 13, 2002


A University of Toronto professor has circulated a letter, signed by 37 Canadian academics, denouncing Israel for "atrocities" and calling on fellow professors to sign a pro-Palestinian resolution.

Sherene Razack, director of the Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, part of the University of Toronto, sent out the letter and resolution on April 29. It has since been posted on the Internet under the title: "Academics in Canada speak out."

In her letter, Prof. Razack, who teaches "race and knowledge production" and "radical education," states: "In the context of the current atrocities perpetrated against the Palestinians by the Israeli state and army, we, Canadian scholars ... and the University, find it imperative to stand up and denounce these crimes against humanity."

Prof. Razack signs off as the "Director, Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies," and urges other professors to sign the resolution using their "position ... and affiliation."

The attached resolution calls on Canadian faculty associations to "show solidarity with the Palestinians by financially supporting" projects such as a "fact-finding mission to the Occupied Palestinian Territories to assess the damage to Palestinian society." It also claims that the "Palestinians have recognized the legitimate existence of the State of Israel," and refers to the Israeli army's occupation of Jenin, citing "many independent eyewitness accounts" of "atrocities beyond belief."

The resolution is signed by 37 professors, including Sarah Maiter, of Wilfrid Laurier University, who confirmed she signed the document when contacted by the National Post, as well as Heather Sykes, another OISE professor. Of the 37 signatories, 15 are affiliated with the U of T, the remainder with universities across Canada.

According to an OISE source, who asked not to be named, Prof. Razack sent out the letter and resolution using her university e-mail; on the letter she specifically asks respondents to reply to, which is the centre's e-mail address at OISE.

Prof. Razack did not return calls from the National Post.

Simon Rosenblum, spokesman for the Canadian Jewish Congress, condemned the resolution as "a prejudicial, inflammatory and highly biased view" of the Middle East conflict that "pays no attention to Israel's attempts to achieve peace nor Israel's legitimate need for self-defence."

But Mohamed Elmasry, a professor of engineering at the University of Waterloo and the national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, said the resolution is a matter of academic freedom. "It is only through voicing different opinions on the same subject that we will be able to advance toward peace," he said, adding the resolution is "fair, reasonable and just."

Prof. Razack sent her letter more than a week after the Israeli military ended Operation Defensive Shield, in Jenin, a Palestinian refugee camp on the West Bank that was a launching point for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. Some Palestinian leaders and Western media have alleged 500 Palestinians were massacred by the Israeli army. A subsequent United Nations report, based on accounts by both Palestinian and Israeli observers, found no evidence of a massacre or of crimes against humanity.

It confirms the deaths of 52 Palestinians, 38 of whom the Palestinian Authority acknowledges were armed, and 23 Israeli soldiers.

Prof. Razack's letter comes at a time when academics in Europe have been organizing boycotts of Israeli institutions in support of the Palestinians. In July, two Israeli professors were summarily dismissed by the editor of a British academic journal because of their nationality.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 professors have signed on to two anti-Israeli petitions on the Internet, one calling for the boycott of scientific institutions, the other for breaking cultural links with Israel.

Officials at OISE would not return calls from the Post, but in May, Cecilia Reynolds, the acting dean, sent a memo to faculty distancing OISE from the letter and from the impression that the resolution represented OISE policy.

"Persons who have added their signature to the resolution have done so as individuals," the memo stated.

Michael Fullan, the current dean of OISE, did not return calls from the Post, but the OISE source said the matter is before the Dean's Office. At issue is Prof. Razack's use of OISE resources to send her petition, and her decision to sign the resolution with her professional title and affiliation with the university.

Revelations about Prof. Razack's letter come at a sensitive time for Jewish university students in Canada. The recently released Anti-Calendar, a student guide to courses published by the university's Arts and Science Students Union, which represents 16,000 U of T students, is dedicated this year "to the memory of the Innocents, Afghanistan and Palestine murdered."

Terry Buckland, editor of the Anti-Calendar, would not agree to an interview, but told the university's student newspaper: "I just picked two areas of the world."

In the same paper, Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B'nai Brith Canada, called the dedication "a horrible, horrible attempt to marginalize the Jewish community at the U of T."

The dedication has also prompted concerns among some Jewish students that the coming academic year could bring a repeat of events that have plagued other campuses. At Concordia University, in Montreal, anti-Israel protesters last year set up mock roadblocks manned by students dressed in Israeli military uniforms with the Star of David on their caps. They stopped all students before they could go to class. Many Jewish students have said they no longer wear yarmulkes on campus for fear of reprisals.

Lisa Isen Baumal, director of the U of T's Wolfond Centre for Jewish Campus Life, says Jewish students here have not faced the same problems as those at some other universities, but says, "This year, unfortunately, it might be a little bit different."

Already, Jewish students have taken their concerns to the university's race relations office and are seeking recourse through the Arts and Science Student Union, which receives funding through their tuition fees and is supposed to represent their concerns.