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Jewish Faculty Network opposes the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism

Updated: Apr 3

Imagine 140 Brave Canadian Jewish Professors Fighting for the Right to Promote Antisemitism on Campuses:

Would their deceased or Holocaust survivor relatives be proud?

It takes a lot of courage for 140 Jewish professors at Canadian universities across the country to stand up for the right to discriminate, slander, lie, and assault Jewish students at these universities. Who would of thought this would be the next frontier in social activism and wokeness? The bravery of these academics in taking on the Jewish establishment in order to enable Jew-haters to spew their venom is breathtaking. Interesting how they zero in on Israel and the defense of Jewish students and faculty as the pariah cause in the universe to show their self-righteousness.

Imagine if they would have stood up for women’s rights in Muslim counties, LGTB+ rights in Muslim countries, Palestinian rights under Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian rights in Lebanon and Syria (where thousands of Palestinians have been murdered by their Muslim brothers), free press in Palestinian controlled territories, children’s rights and stopping the indoctrination of children with hate and training in terrorism by Palestinian leaders. That would be brave indeed! Even standing up for the right to express these injustices at any campus today would take some guts. But don’t look for such heroics here. “Establishment” Jews are a much easier target – and you’re not likely get the death threats from this group.

After all, injustices in the Muslim world and the inability to speak about them on campus are insignificant issues in comparison. Free speech which can include slandering Jews, denying the holocaust and the self-determination of Jews (other than themselves), along with promoting violence against anyone who defends the rights of the democratic state of Israel is now a noble cause. Fighting the Jewish “establishment” in protecting Jewish interests and values, through getting at the root hate of antisemitism (cloaked as anti-Zionism) is poisoning academic freedom in their other-worldly view.

Let’s look at their precise claims:

Addressing all forms of racism and discrimination, including anti-Semitism, is imperative at this historical moment.

Yet they only focus on enabling antisemitism and not defeating it.

Insist that university policies to combat anti-Semitism are not used to stifle legitimate criticisms of the Israeli state, or the right to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Interestingly the IHRA definition does neither of these. You can criticize Israeli policies until your heart’s content – Israeli newspapers do it day in and day out. We only wish that Palestinian newspapers were allowed to do the same. Arab journalists tend to get beaten up or even killed if they criticize their leaders or praise Israel in any way. If these academics really cared about social justice (and not just bashing Israel) they would speak out against this. But maybe they’re too afraid. Attacking Jews is so much easier – less likely to get harassed or assaulted on campus.

The IHRA definition says NOTHING about supporting the Palestinian people or not supporting them. It does make it slightly more difficult to keep saying you’re going to wipe Israel off the map and the face of the Earth. But I guess that’s okay with these academics. They’re unlikely to speak out against the actual murder of tens of thousands of Palestinians in Syria, but if you talk of wiping out 6 million Jews in Israel, no problem there. They stand tall and proud for the right to promote killing more Jews – I’m sure their relatives who either perished or survived the holocaust would be proud of them.

We recognize that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a legitimate, non-violent form of protest.

Is it legitimate to deny the Jews their indigenous ancestral homeland? Is it also legitimate to promote driving the Jews out of the Middle East? These academics see no problem here. Just keep moving along.

The most serious problem however is that the definition is tied to a series of examples of which many are criticisms of the Israeli state.

Really, so if that’s the problem then why not point out exactly where this is the case? The working definition clearly states that criticism of Israeli policies is legitimate and not antisemitic.

It also equates Jewishness and Judaism with the State of Israel—effectively erasing generations of debate within Jewish communities

Sorry, but Israel and Jerusalem are woven into practically every Jewish prayer. So are you denying Passover, Hannukah, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Succoth, Simcha Torah, and nearly every other Jewish holiday? Are you denying the Torah? If so, then we’re not sure exactly which Jews you claim to represent. There is no Judaism without Zionism, just read the Torah.

The IHRA working definition distracts from experiences of anti-Jewish racism, and threatens to silence legitimate criticism of Israel’s grave violations of international law and denial of Palestinian human and political rights.

It does not distract from, rather it shines a light on anti-Jewish racism, which we call antisemitism. Nobody is stopping anyone from debating whether or not Israel has breached international law. You don’t seem to have any similar concerns about Hamas, a listed terrorist organization, breaching international law by indoctrinating and using child soldiers, indiscriminately bombing Jewish (and Arab) civilians, training suicide bombers, and other clear violations of international law. What about the Palestinian Authority paying to slay Jewish civilians?

The IHRA does not deny the Palestinians of any human or political rights. If that’s what you believe, then why not spell out those rights that are being denied? Nothing in the IHRA contracts the civil laws and rights of all citizens in Israel.


Here is the full list of Jewish faculty across Canada who have publicly signed a statement opposing the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism:

  • Howard Tzvi Adelman, History and Jewish Studies, Queen’s University

  • Willow Samara Allen, Adjunct Faculty, Leadership Studies, University of Victoria

  • Jonathan Alschech, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Northern British Columbia

  • Vered Amit, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University

  • Meir Amor, Associate Professor, Concordia University

  • Shira Avni, Associate Professor, Concordia University

  • Abigail B. Bakan, Professor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto

  • Joel Bakan, Professor, Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia

  • Lisa Barg, McGill University

  • Bruce Baum, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia

  • Michaela Beder, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

  • Daniel Bender, History and Food Studies, Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, University of Toronto

  • Joseph Berkovitz, Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto

  • Rachel Berger, Associate Professor, History, Concordia University

  • Jody Berland, Professor, Department of Humanities, York University

  • Bruce J. Berman, Queen’s University

  • Rachel Berman, Associate Professor, Early Childhood Studies, Ryerson University

  • Lauren Bialystok, Associate Professor, Department of Social Justice Education, OISE, University of Toronto

  • Anne-Emanuelle Birn, Professor of Critical Development Studies & Global Health University of Toronto

  • Gary Bloch, Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

  • Michael Blum, Professor, École des arts visuels et médiatiques, Université du Québec à Montréal

  • Shamma Boyarin, English Department/Religion Culture and Society Program, University of Victoria

  • Lara Braitstein, Associate Professor, School of Religious Studies, McGill University

  • Elise K. Burton, Assistant Professor, History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto

  • Nadya Burton, Associate Professor, Midwifery Education Program, Ryerson University

  • Shelley Ruth Butler, Lecturer, McGill University

  • Nergis Canefe, Associate Professor of Politics, Public Policy and Law, York University

  • Eric Cazdyn, Professor, University of Toronto

  • Claudia Chaufan, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Health Policy and Management, York University

  • Rebecca Comay, Professor, Philosophy and Comparative Literature, University of Toronto

  • Jonah Corne, Associate Professor, Department of English, Theatre, Film and Media, University of Manitoba

  • Jordana Cox, Assistant Professor, University of Waterloo

  • Deborah Cowen, Professor, Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

  • Leah Decter, Canada Research Chair in Creative Technologies, Division of Media Arts, NSCAD University

  • Sheila Delany, Emerita, Simon Fraser University

  • James Deutsch MD, PhD, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Toronto

  • Norman Epstein, Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of British Columbia

  • Rachel Epstein, Adjunct Faculty, Brock University

  • Mark Etkin, MD, FRCPC, Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba

  • Aaron Ettinger, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Carleton University

  • Zac Feilchenfeld, MD MHPE FRCPC, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto

  • Alvin Finkel, Retired Professor of History, Athabasca University

  • Elle Flanders, Lecturer, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto

  • John Fox, Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, McMaster University

  • Sid Frankel, Associate Professor, University of Manitoba

  • Gavin Fridell, Associate Professor, Saint Mary’s University

  • Tami J. Friedman, Associate Professor, Department of History, Brock University

  • Harriet Friedmann, Professor Emerita of Sociology, University of Toronto

  • Lara Rosenoff Gauvin, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Manitoba

  • Stella Gaon, Professor, Department of Political Science, Saint Mary’s University

  • Judith A. Garber, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Alberta

  • Roni Gechtman, Associate Professor, Department of History, Mount Saint Vincent University

  • Mimi Gellman, Associate Professor, Emily Carr University of Art and Design

  • Amanda Glasbeek, Associate Professor, Department of Social Science, York University

  • Harry Glasbeek, Professor Emeritus, York University

  • Luin Goldring, Professor of Sociology, York University

  • Tara Goldstein, Professor, Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, OISE, University of Toronto

  • Cy Gonick, Founder Canadian Dimension magazine, retired economics professor University of Manitoba

  • Rachel Gorman, Associate Professor, Critical Disability Studies, York University

  • Barbara Graves, Professor, Faculté d’éducation, University of Ottawa

  • Samantha Green, Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto

  • Jonathan Greene, Associate Professor, Political Studies, Trent University

  • Saara Greene, Professor, School of Social Work, McMaster University

  • Jesse Greener, Professor of Chemistry, Université Laval

  • Ricardo Grinspun, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, York University

  • Kevin A. Gould, Associate Professor, Geography, Planning and Environment, Concordia University

  • Gal Gvili, McGill University

  • Jasmin Habib, Associate Professor, University of Waterloo

  • Chaya Halberstam, King’s University College at Western University

  • Judy Haiven, PhD. Retired Professor, Saint Mary’s University

  • Larry Haiven, PhD. Professor Emeritus, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

  • Max Haiven, Associate Professor, CRC in Culture, Media and Social Justice, Lakehead University

  • Orit Halpern, Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University

  • Rick Halpern, Professor, History, University of Toronto

  • Denise Handlarski, Assistant Professor, Education, Trent University

  • Monica Heller, Professor, University of Toronto

  • Judith Adler Hellman, Senior Scholar and Professor Emerita, Politics and Social Science, York University

  • Stephen M. Hellman, Senior Scholar and Professor Emeritus, Department of Politics, York University

  • Sivane Hirsch, Professor, Education Department, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières

  • Risa Horowitz, Associate Professor, Visual Arts, University of Regina

  • Penelope Ironstone, Department of Communication Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University

  • Dan Jacobson, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Calgary

  • JoAnn Jaffe, Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Studies, University of Regina

  • David Kahane, Professor of Political Science, University of Alberta

  • Ivan Kalmar, Professor, University of Toronto

  • Ilan Kapoor, Professor, York University

  • David Kattenburg, University of Manitoba

  • Albert Katz, Professor Emeritus , Dept of Psychology, University of Western Ontario

  • Ariel Katz, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

  • Ryan M. Katz-Rosene, Assistant Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa

  • W. Reuben Kaufman, Professor Emeritus, Dept. Biological Sciences, University of Alberta

  • Robert Kirchner, PhD. University of Alberta Linguistics Dept., Associate Professor (retired)

  • Martin Klein, Professor (Emeritus), University of Toronto

  • Peter Klein, Professor, University of British Columbia

  • Peggy Kohn, Professor, Political Science, University of Toronto

  • Natalie Kouri-Towe, Assistant Professor, Concordia University

  • Jeffrey Kugler, Executive Director (retired), Centre for Urban Schooling, OISE, University of Toronto

  • Michael Lambek, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

  • Robert Latham, Department of Politics, York University

  • Gordon Laxer, Professor Emeritus, Political Economy, University of Alberta

  • Michael A. Lebowitz, Professor Emeritus, Economics, Simon Fraser University

  • Barbara Leckie, Professor, Department of English and Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art, and Culture, Carleton University

  • Josh Lepawsky, Memorial University

  • Richard Borshay Lee, University Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto

  • Erica Lehrer, Professor, Concordia University

  • Melissa Levin, Assistant Professor: Teaching Stream, New College, University of Toronto

  • Charles Z. Levkoe, Canada Research Chair in Equitable and Sustainable Food Systems, Department of Health Sciences, Lakehead University

  • Charmain Levy, Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Université du Québec en Outaouais

  • Joel Lexchin, Professor Emeritus, School of Health Policy and Management, Faculty of Health, York University

  • Mark Libin, Professor, Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media, University of Manitoba

  • Felice Lifshitz, Professor, University of Alberta

  • Mark Lipton, Professor, University of Guelph, College of Arts

  • Andrew P. Lyons, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Wilfrid Laurier University.

  • Harriet Lyons, Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology, University of Waterloo

  • Shoshana Magnet, Professor, Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies, University of Ottawa

  • Sara Matthews, Associate Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University

  • Don Mazer, Associate Professor of Psychology (retired), University of Prince Edward Island

  • Marguerite Mendell, Distinguished Professor Emerita, Concordia University, Montreal

  • Jeffrey B. Meyers, TRU, Law

  • Claire Mummé, Associate Professor, University of Windsor Faculty of Law

  • Dorit Naaman, Full Professor, Film, Media and Cultural Studies, Queen’s University

  • Joanne Naiman, Professor Emerita, Ryerson University, Toronto

  • Neil Naiman, Senior Scholar, York University

  • Sheryl Nestel, PhD, Lecturer (retired), Ontario institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto

  • Jesse Salah Ovadia, Associate Professor Department of Political Science, University of Windsor

  • Shiri Pasternak, Assistant Professor, Criminology, Ryerson University

  • Alejandro I. Paz, Associate Professor, University of Toronto Scarborough

  • Karen Pearlston, Professor of Law, University of New Brunswick

  • Shayna Plaut, Adjunct Professor Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Manitoba

  • Natasha Pravaz, Associate Professor, Anthropology and Cultural Analysis and Social Theory, Wilfrid Laurier University

  • Janna Promislow, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria

  • Yakov M. Rabkin, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Montreal

  • Dennis Raphael, Professor of Health Policy and Management, York University

  • Ester Reiter, Professor Emeritus, York University

  • Jillian Rogin, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor

  • Richard Roman, University of Toronto

  • Reuben Rose-Redwood, Professor, Department of Geography, University of Victoria

  • Daniel Rosenbaum, MD, FRCPC, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Toronto

  • Daniel Rosenblatt, Associate Professor, Carleton University

  • Reuben Roth, Associate Professor, School of Northern and Community Studies, Laurentian University

  • Natalie Rothman, Associate Professor, University of Toronto Scarborough

  • Alan Rutkowski, Librarian (retired), University of Alberta

  • Deborah Rutman, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Social Work, University of Victoria

  • Ariel Salzmann, Queen’s University

  • Itay Sapir, Associate Professor, Art History, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

  • Rebecca Schein, Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies, Carleton University

  • Paula Schwebel, Associate Professor, Philosophy, Ryerson University

  • Alan Sears, Professor, Department of Sociology, Ryerson University

  • Naomi Seidman, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto

  • Devin Zane Shaw, Regular Faculty, Department of Philosophy and Humanities, Douglas College

  • Lincoln Z. Shlensky, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Victoria

  • Shirley R Steinberg, Ph.D., Research Professor of Critical Youth Studies, The University of Calgary

  • Jonathan Sterne, Professor, McGill University

  • Jeremy Stolow, Department of Communication Studies, Concordia University

  • Mira Sucharov, Professor, Political Science and University Chair of Teaching Innovation, Carleton University

  • Gail Super, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Sociology (UTM), University of Toronto

  • Mark Sussman, Concordia University, Theatre Department/Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society & Culture

  • Donald Swartz, Professor, Carleton University (retired)

  • Vannina Sztainbok, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, University of Toronto

  • Judith Taylor, Associate Professor, Sociology and WGSI, University of Toronto

  • Eliot Tretter, Associate Professor, Geography and the Urban Studies Program, University of Calgary

  • Samuel Trosow, Associate Professor, University of Western Ontario, Faculty of Law and Faculty of Information & Media Studies

  • Eric Tucker, Professor Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

  • Brenda Vellino, Department of English/Human Rights, Carleton University

  • Richard Wellen, Associate Professor, Department of Social Science, York University

  • Abraham Weizfeld PhD, former Course Director York University, Departments of Political Science & Social & Political Thought

  • Joel Westheimer, University Research Chair in Democracy & Education, University of Ottawa

  • Daphne Winland, Department of Anthropology, York University

  • Yves Winter, Associate Professor, Political Science, McGill University

  • Lesley Wood, Associate Professor, Sociology, York University

  • Aaron Sidney Wright, Assistant Professor, Dalhousie University and University of King’s College

  • b.h. Yael, Professor, Faculty of Art, OCAD University

  • Maya A. Yampolsky, Assistant Professor, Université Laval

  • Anna Zalik, Associate Professor, York University

  • Keren Zaiontz, Assistant Professor, Department of Film and Media, Queen’s University

  • Joyce L. Zemans, Professor Emerita, York University

  • Marcia Zemans, M.D. FRCPC, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

  • Natalie Zemon Davis, Professor of History (retired), University of Toronto

  • Norman Zlotkin, Adjunct Professor, College of Law, University of Saskatchewan

  • Marvin Zuker, OISE, University of Toronto

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