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CUPE: Ban Israeli academics

Source: P.M. Jaworski, The Shotgun Blog, The Western Standard, January 07, 2009

This is unbelievable, but true.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees' (CUPE) Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee, is attempting to push through a proposal to ban Israeli academics from teaching or lecturing in Ontario universities.

So, for example, if you happen to be born in Israel, and decided to pursue an academic career with a focus on, say, the mating habits of frogs, or modern dance, or children's psychology, you would, should this proposal pass, have to make a political proclamation. Namely, you would have to declare that you are not now, nor ever have been, a member of the Communist Party of Israel you oppose and condemn the bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza, and the attacks on Gaza in general.

I don't really care what your view on the current conflict happens to be, this proposal by CUPE is so beyond the pale as to warrant requests for Sid Ryan's, and the entire university worker's union executive's, resignation. Whoever is responsible for this proposal needs to be fired. Immediately.

Demonstrating utter disrespect for academic freedom, academic integrity, and for the freedom of conscience of academics while claiming to represent academics at universities. Can you wrap your head around those two things? Because I can't. It seems pretty simple to me: Either you defend academic freedom, or you do not deserve to be called the representatives of those of us who choose to pursue higher education as a profession.

But why limit yourselves to Israeli academics, dear, sweet thought police? Why not demand oaths of allegiance to your preferred viewpoint from Americans, Canadians and, frankly, the world entire? If failing to condemn the attacks on Gaza is so important, why should those of us who happen to be born in Canada or the U.S. not have to recite your pledge of allegiance to official CUPE-approved thoughts and moral attitudes? 

According to the article:

The resolution is still being drafted but the union said it will seek to prohibit Israeli academics from speaking, teaching or researching at Ontario universities. The CUPE committee will distribute the resolution to its members at the end of the month.

It will be put to a vote at the committee's annual conference in February.

Janice Folk-Dawson, chairwoman of the university workers committte, said: "Clearly international pressure on Israel must increase to stop the massacre that is going on daily. We are proud to add CUPE voices to others from around the world saying enough is enough."

Ms. Folk-Dawson said the committee felt it was crucial to do something.

Got that? It was "crucial to do something," so they decided that a proposal to have Israeli academics recite some pledge (or whatever) is a good idea.

Meanwhile, irony totally escapes Sid Ryan, president of CUPE Ontario: "Mr. Ryan said the resolution was a reasonable response to Israel's attack on the Islamic University, which he likened to the torching of books by Nazis during the Second World War." Right. What shall we liken your proposal to, Mr. Ryan? Because I'm tempted to run the same argumentum ad Nazium against this proposal...

The short of it is this: Efforts to have academics swear to some or another view is a violation of their academic freedom, and should be resisted.

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