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Jenny Peto speaks in Vancouver on Ontario furore over her Master’s thesis, defends academic freedom, right to criticize Israel

February 7, 2011

Jenny Peto, whose Master’s thesis was attacked in the Ontario legislature for being anti-semitic, is speaking in Vancouver on Sat., Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at SFU Harbour Centre.

The attack on Peto’s thesis granted by the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto is thought to be the first time a thesis has been the subject of discussion in the legislature of any province in Canada.

Peto, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, argued in her thesis that today’s Jews of European descent enjoy white privilege and yet portray themselves as victims by using Holocaust remembrance programs. In her thesis, Peto describes Israel as an apartheid state.

Denying that a critical analysis of Israel’s policies is anti-semitic, Peto argued that “students and researchers should be able to research and publish on controversial matters without the fear of attacks from the government.”

Academics, including the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the University of Toronto administration, and other organizations across Canada have defended Peto and charged that the MPP’s are putting academic freedom at risk.

The Ontario MPP’s attack is part of a growing campaign to include criticism of Israel as a form of anti-semitism punishable under hate crime legislation. The Harper Conservatives have also attempted to silence criticism of Israel by eliminating funding to the Canadian Arab Federation and the coalition of church groups called KAIROS. The federal government also declared former British MP George Galloway a threat to national security and barred him in 2009 from entering Canada until a court ruled that there was no legal justification for the act.

Last fall, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told an informal coalition of international politicians that Canada would defend Israel no matter what the cost.

In BC, pro-Israel groups at UBC targeted two student organizations for voting to donate $700 to support the Canadian Boat to Gaza, which plans to break Israel’s embargo and deliver supplies to Palestinians in Gaza. Charging that student money was being used to support terrorism, the zionist groups used a variety of parliamentary challenges and legal threats to delay the donation for more than two months.

Omar Chaaban of UBC’s Solidarity with Palestinian Human Rights and Brian Campbell of Seriously Free Speech Committee are also scheduled to speak. The forum, which is free to the public, is sponsored by Simon Fraser University’s Teaching Support Staff Union.

For more information contact:
Mike Krebs
SFU's Teaching Support Staff Union
Phone: 604 779 7430

Joanna Shniad

Brian Campbell
Seriously Free Speech Committee
Phone: 604 254 1803

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Seriously Free Speech Committee


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