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September 17, 2021 5:13 pm

Canadian Academics Suspend Censure of University of Toronto After School ‘Re-Offers’ Job to Anti-Israel Scholar


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

University College, University of Toronto. Photo Credit: WikiCommons.

On Friday, a Canadian teacher’s union suspended its censure against the University of Toronto, imposed over accusations that the school had inappropriately denied a job to a legal scholar due to pressure from a pro-Israel donor.

In April, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), the union of 72,000 academic professionals in Canada, denounced University of Toronto officials for not hiring German law professor Valentina Azarova as director of the law faculty’s International Human Rights Program. Alleging that it had “violated academic freedom,” CAUT urged its members not to accept appointments or speaking engagements there.

While Azarova had drawn criticism for anti-Israel activism, an independent review in March determined that the university had based its decision on Azarova’s inability to acquire a work visa.

On Friday, CAUT announced it was temporarily “pausing” the censure, after the University of Toronto had re-offered Azarova the job for which she was previously considered. CAUT said it will lift its censure entirely pending the extension of “academic freedom protections to academic managerial positions and developing policies that prohibit donor interference in internal academic affairs.”

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The Jewish group B’nai Brith Canada — which has previously characterized charges against the university’s hiring committee as an “antisemitic fantasy” — responded to the CAUT announcement on Friday.

“Valentina Azarova should have not been recommended by the search committee in the first place,” the group said on Twitter. “The suggestion that her initial non-hiring had anything to do with Jewish money and influence remains an unacceptable antisemitic trope.”

“All too many adopted this antisemitic trope and it still has not been adequately rejected.”

Valentina Azarova has declined the University of Toronto’s latest job offer, CAUT said.

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