CIJA statement on Upcoming York University Conference

Statement by Hershell Ezrin, CEO, Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA):

2009 marks the 50th anniversary of York University, a proud academic institution with a long history of Jewish life and Jewish involvement. However, it saddens and concerns us that the anniversary celebrations include a conference running June 22-24, 2009, titled: “Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace.”

The conference aims to explore a one-state, bi-national solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, the imposition of which would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish state. The conference will include a number of speakers who are recognizable for their roles as organizers and outspoken proponents of “Israel apartheid week” and the Israel boycott movement.

Following on the heels of other recent occurrences at York that have intimidated Jewish students on campus, this seems a remarkable lapse of judgment on the part of the University. The organizers have procured a few balanced speakers of high repute, but this is certainly not enough to characterize the conference as one of high academic integrity or good scholarship as would befit a first-class institution.

Through its agencies, our community has spent months trying to work with York University on this and other issues related to antisemitism and anti-Israelism and is committed to continuing to do so in future.

CIJA recommends that you write to President Mamdou Shoukri (mshoukri@yorku.ca) and Dean Patrick Monahan (pmonahan@osgoode.yorku.ca) to make clear to the administration at York and Osgoode that:

  • Events like this should not have the sanction of the university.
  • These events only serve to further the already degenerating situation at York University surrounding the Israel/Palestinian issue.
  • These events lead to an increased sense of insecurity for those who should feel free to express their support for Israel.

If you have any questions, please contact Susan Davis at CIJA (sdavis@cija.ca).