Israel Lobby and Free Speech at Canadian Universities

In 1998, a young medical researcher, Professor Nancy Olivieri (University of Toronto), became a target of Jewish lobby groups and pharmaceutical industry when she claimed that her research indicates serious problems with an experimental drug manufactured by Canada’s largest drug company, Apotex. Apotex, which is owned by Jewish billionaire Bernard C. Sherman (born 1942), retaliated by cancelling her research and slamming her reputation. In 2005, Miriam Shuchman published her book ‘ The Drug Trial: Nancy Olivieri and the scandal that rocked the Hospital for Sick Children’.

Later, Nancy became a whistleblower and is widely recognized as one of the pre-eminent crusaders for academic freedom in Canada and United States.

In 2004, Daniel Freeman-Maloy, an anti-Zionist student activist at York University was expelled from the Campus by York’s Jewish president Lorna Marsden. He was allegedly punished for his encounter with notorious Islamophobe, Daniel Pipes who runs the Campus Watch website which he uses to smear individuals who challenge Israeli policies in the Muslim East. In 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered York to pay $850,000 to Daniel as compensation.

In 2005, Jewish professor at York University (Toronto), Dr. David Noble sued York and several Jewish groups lobbying for Israel including CIJA, CJC, CIC, Hillel and B’nai Brith for $10 million for violation of his academic freedom and defamation.

In 2010 – University of Toronto was slammed by Jewish groups for awarding a Master’s degree to a Jew female student Jennifer Peto – for her thesis which claims that the Jews practice racism against non-Jews.

Last year, University of Toronto, Jewish professor Rupaleem Bhuyan was hunted down by Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) for refusing to shut-up her students who claimed that ‘Jews have too much power’ in Canada and America. Earlier she had called Israel; “a satellite of the United States, unworthy of distinction as a separate country”.

Last year, Jon Thompson published his book, ‘No Debate: The Israel Lobby and Free Speech at Canadian Universities‘. Jason Kunin, a Toronto teacher and writer wrote the book review in Socialist Solidarity website on January 20, 2012.

Institutionally, universities serve and always have served the interests of power, but they nevertheless contain spaces that are among the few places left in North America where informed discussion about Palestine can take place outside the well-funded apparatus of Israeli sponsored hasbara (propaganda),” says Jason.

What emerges from Thompson’s summary of events is that when it comes to outside groups like B’nai Brith, the JDL, and the Canadian Israel Jewish Affairs Committee (CIJA), while they contributed to creating a climate of intimidation and put pressure on some members of the York University administration, particularly as the controversy threatened to alienate donors, their sphere of influence was and remains primarily outside (but above) the university, in the media and in the halls of government power,” says Jason.

The major pro-Israel campaigner is  Gerald Steinberg, an Israeli academic and founder of the justly maligned NGO Monitor, which is often compared to Daniel Pipes’s notorious snitch site Campus Watch. Steinberg’s editorials were published widely by several major newspapers that never questioned his academic credibility.

Jason concludes his review by saying: “Universities have never been the bastions of academic freedom that some have liked to think they were, but I do agree with Thompson’s conclusion that current trends suggest the “existing frameworks that protect the public interest will continue to be eroded” both by the global entrenching of neo-liberal economic policies and by the aggressive acceleration of those policies under our current, highly ideological (Stephen Harper’s pro-Israel) government. The worst, I fear, is still to come.”

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