Open Letter: Defend Freedom of Speech

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Open Letter to university community regarding Palestinian Rights and Canadian Universities

The last two years have seen increasing efforts to limit advocacy of Palestinian rights on Canadian universities, amounting to a pattern of the suppression of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. These include:

  • Statements from 19 university presidents in the summer of 2007 to foreclose debate on the academic boycott of Israel, citing “academic freedom”.
  • Visits to Israel by eight university presidents in the summer of 2008, with no equivalent outreach to Palestinian institutions.
  • Efforts to ban the use of the term “Israeli Apartheid” at McMaster University in February-March 2008, overturned only through a campaign of protest
  • Discipline against students involved in peaceful protests for Palestinian rights at York University in March in 2008
  • Attempted discipline against a faculty member who addressed a rally against Israeli Apartheid at York University in 2008
  • A pattern of cancellation of room bookings for meetings concerning Palestinian rights at the University of Toronto and York University in 2008
  • The use of security clearance requirements and fees to cover security costs to impede campus meetings about Palestinian rights

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