Anti-semitism, like other forms of hate has been more visible lately. There has been a move by some to include criticism of the state of Israel as a form of anti-semitism. There are nuances, but labeling analysis and criticism of government actions as anti-semitism has significant implications for scholarly inquiry and our – academics’ – right to speak truth to power. This academic freedom is a cornerstone of free, democratic society.
Therefore, at its January 26fh meeting, the RFA Executive Committee passed 2 motions related to this subject:
1) BIRT, The Ryerson Faculty Association 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 the RFA 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.
2) BIRT, the RFA executive send an email to the members with the text of the previous motion, along with a link to: https://www.noihra.ca/academic-campaign, and further will copy this to OCUFA, the Ontario Parliament Standing Committee on Justice Policy, and the Academic Alliance Against Antisemitism, Racism, Colonialism & Censorship in Canada (ARC).
An article in The Conversation about IHRA and academic freedom has been forwarded to members: https://theconversation.com/criticizing-israel-is-not-antisemitic-its-academic-freedom-148864