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August 13, 2021 5:33 pm

Canadian Jewish Group Asks Government to Intervene in University of Toronto Hiring Controversy Over Anti-Israel Academic

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

University of Toronto Faculty of Law in Ontario. Photo: Ken Lud / Flickr

B’nai Brith Canada implored several Canadian government agencies on Thursday to deny a work permit to Valentina Azarova, a pro-Palestinian activist who was last year denied a job at the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program, blaming what the group termed “an antisemitic fantasy” for the decision.

Azarova — a German law professor who had previously drawn criticism for her work with the al-Haq organization, which has links with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group — was considered last year to serve as the program’s director, but was rejected.

Despite an independent review of Azarova’s hiring decision in March determining that the university had made its decision because she was ineligible for a work visa, “many opponents continue to fantasize about reality and charge that the real reason for refusal of the recommendation of the search committee was an antisemitic conspiracy: Jewish power, influence and money,” B’nai Brith said.

“Should Ms. Azarova request a work permit for the position of director of the International Human Rights Program at U of T, the government should deny that request,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “Our federal government simply cannot aid abet the University of Toronto in a distorted and unfair hiring process that discriminates against Canadian applicants.”

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The letter followed the reposting of the job for which Azarova was considered without its previous preference for Canadian citizens, the group said, claiming that the search committee had changed the rules to fast track her through a second hiring process.

“It has been reported that the U of T Faculty of Law Dean has reached out to Azarova to let her know the application is open, but there is no public indication that the U of T has similarly reached out to Canadians who have previously applied for the position,” wrote David Matas, the Jewish advocacy group’s Senior Legal Counsel, to the Canadian government.

B’nai Brith also responded to University of Toronto Faculty Association President Teriza Zoric’s saying at an event in June that Azarova’s candidacy was opposed by an “entitled, powerful Zionist minority.”

“In her remarks, Zoric simultaneously invoked centuries-old anti-Jewish conspiracy myths while also denying the legitimacy of Jewish people’s concerns of antisemitism,” B’nai Brith said.

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