Saturday, May 8, 2021
Saturday, May 8, 2021
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International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance

Concordia University Faculty Association (CUFA) Council to consider and pass a motion opposing the  IHRA definition of antisemitism at its upcoming meeting to be held on Wed. April 21st, at 13h00 on Zoom.  Invited, as well are Concordia full-time faculty members interested in this issue.

The email  below was written and circulated by Concordia Prof Kevin Gould (Geography, Planning and Environment):

“A group of CUFA members are trying to encourage other members to attend the next meeting, which is Wednesday 21 April at 1pm.  We are asking for support to pass a motion which opposes the IHRA definition.  This is the general meeting, and if we can get 100 people to attend, then decisions can be made by the rank and file.  Would you be willing to attend the meeting and to support us on this?  Do you know of others who might be willing to attend?  

Here is the zoom link for the meeting, and below you will find more information about the campaign.

Zoom link to the meeting is  https://zoom.us/j/94052792425?pwd=M05vUFUvK1lLNFJGeGh6b3d6Q2ZzQT09 

As faculty committed to the fight against antisemitism, racism, and colonization within our institutions, many of us at Concordia are deeply troubled by the prospect that Canadian colleges and universities are adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance  that is being promoted by our federal government as a non-legally binding definition in 2019.  The definition is vague and includes a broad range of criticism of the state of Israel among the 11 examples that are included with it. If adopted more widely, this definition of antisemitism poses a grave threat to our academic freedom; it will be used to censor critical research, scholarship, and teaching by equating legitimate criticisms of a nation state with hate speech, and undermine important anti-racist and decolonial initiatives in our colleges and universities. In recognition of these issues, Independent Jewish Voices Canada, an organization that I have been a part of for many years now, opposes the IHRA definition, and has presented the following alternative definition to antisemitism: https://www.noihra.ca/our-definition

In this context, we are trying to pass a motion at the next CUFA meeting to denounce the federal government’s adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism.  The motion is shown below and it to be introduced by CUFA representative for the Dept. of History, Elena Razlogova:

“CUFA unequivocally supports the academic freedom of its members. This freedom includes the right to pursue research and open inquiry in an honest search for knowledge that is free from institutional censorship, including that of the government. While CUFA opposes antisemitism and all forms of racism and hatred, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism poses a serious threat to academic freedom in our university. The IHRA definition of antisemitism misconstrues antisemitism to include a broad range of criticism of the State of Israel. The IHRA definition thus undermines important anti-racist and decolonial initiatives in Canadian educational institutions. It can also be used to censor political speech and restrict the academic freedom of teachers and researchers who have developed critical perspectives on the policies and practices of the State of Israel. Such targeted attacks will have a chilling effect on the academic freedom of our members in the classroom, in their research, and in campus politics more broadly.” 

More background:

Within Quebec, the University of Montréal faculty union, the UQAM faculty union and University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres faculty union have already passed motions in opposition to the IHRA definition.  Further, 12 unions in Ontario have passed motions in opposition to the IHRA definition (please see the full list on Ontario unions further below).

The Ontario Confederation of Faculty Associations (OCUFA) has also passed a motion. In addition to these actions at Canadian universities, a national letter signed by 150 Jewish faculty across Canada – including 12 faculty at Concordia, was recently published: https://jewishfaculty.ca/?fbclid=IwAR2RvE0V63syJm1KozvB6eMm6VBLHUjib9-g8datVaOo2hh-dGH3JZIDsE0.

Internationally, over 200 of the world’s leading Jewish & Holocaust studies scholars have signed an alternative definition in acknowledgements of issues relating to the IHRA definition: https://jerusalemdeclaration.org/

You can also read more on this topic in The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/jewish-scholars-defend-the-right-to-academic-freedom-on-israel-palestine-157674

___________________________________________________________________

Other unions or organizations that have spoken out against the IHRA definition include the following:

BC Civil Liberties Association

Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Federation of Students

Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Canadian Union of Public Employees – Ontario

Ligue des droits et libertés

Vancouver and District Labour Council

  

List of Ontario Unions:

L’Association des professeur.e.s de l’Université d’Ottawa / The Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa

CUPE 3903 (Contract Faculty, Teaching/Research Assistants Union, York University)

CUPE 3906 (Contract Faculty, Teaching Assistants & Postdocs at McMaster University)

CUPE 4207 (Contract Academic Workers at Brock University)

Nipissing University Faculty Association  

Ontario College of Art & Design Faculty Association

Osgoode Hall Faculty Association

Ryerson Faculty Association

St. Jerome’s University Academic Staff Association  

Western University Faculty Association

 

End of Email _____________________________________________________________________

 

In Support of IHRA:

More Than 350 Academics Sign Letter Supporting IHRA:  Aaron Bandler, Jewish Journal, Apr. 20, 2021 — More than 350 academics, professionals and intellectuals worldwide signed a letter supporting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

Why We Support the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism… Cautiously:  JSpace Canada:  Jordan Devon And Karen Mock, Canadian Jewish Record, Nov. 5, 2020 — On Oct. 27, Ontario became the first province in Canada to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism. JSpaceCanada, the organization we represent, joined the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), B’nai Brith Canada and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center in applauding this decision

Cotler Denies IHRA Definition Will Suppress Israel Criticism:  Janice Arnold, Canadian Jewish Record, Dec. 7, 2020 The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism does not stifle criticism of Israel or discredit advocacy for Palestinian rights, says Canada’s first ever Special Envoy for Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism.

Jewish Community Applauds Ontario’s Adoption of IHRA Definition of Antisemitism:  Bnai Brith Canada, Oct. 27, 2020 — Today, the Government of Ontario became the first province in Canada to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, as endorsed by consensus at the 2016 IHRA plenary.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations wrote to President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday calling on “all federal departments and agencies” to consider adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism.

In addition to the Conference of Presidents leadership, the letter to Biden was signed by the heads of the Jewish Federations of North America, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, Hadassah and the Orthodox Union:  Jewish Insider, Jan. 14, 2021

In Opposition of IHRA:

Progressive Israel Network Groups Oppose Codification of IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, Citing Strong Potential for Misuse:  Jan. 12, 2021 — The following statement was issued by the members of the Progressive Israel Network: Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, Habonim Dror North America, Hashomer Hatzair World Movement, Jewish Labor Committee, J Street, New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, Reconstructing Judaism and T’ruah

Progressive Jewish Groups Seek To Undermine Adoption Of Universal Anti-Semitism Definition:  Jackson Richman, JNS, Jan. 19, 2021 — As the Biden administration prepares to take on major international issues of the day, a debate has emerged within the American Jewish community over whether the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism should be adopted into law.

Canada: Jewish Faculty Members Oppose Adoption Of IHRA anti-Semitism Definition:  MEMO, Mar. 29, 2021 — Amid growing concern over the weaponising of anti-Semitism by staunch advocates of the state of Israel, Jewish faculty members in Canadian universities are opposing the adoption of the highly controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Jewish racism.

NDP Membership Wades Into Debate Over Controversial Definition Of Anti-Semitism:  Christopher Reynolds, City News, Mar. 19, 2024 — A debate over the definition of anti-Semitism has spilled over to the federal New Democrats ahead of the party convention next month.

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