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Jewish Group Commends UofT Provost for Supporting Freedom of Inquiry

December 9, 2010

Independent Jewish Voices – Canada (IJV) applauds University of Toronto Provost Cheryl Misak for standing behind the student whose thesis on Jewish identity and Holocaust education programs has been criticized by some observers as being anti-semitic.

Quoted in the Toronto Star, Misak stated that “Freedom of inquiry lies at the very heart of our institution,” and insisted that “the best way for controversy to unfold is for members of our community to engage with the perspectives and arguments they dispute.”

Jenny Peto, who is Jewish herself, has been attacked in numerous articles as well as by Ontario Members of the Provincial Parliament for the masters thesis she completed in June 2010 which critiqued two Holocaust education programs, March of the Living and March of Remembrance and Hope. In the thesis, which was supervised and reviewed by several scholars, Peto argues that these programs work to “obscure Jewish privilege, deny Jewish racism and promote the interests of the Israeli nation-state”.

“Despite what is being said by former Canadian Jewish Congress president Irving Abella and Ontario citizenship and immigration minister Eric Hoskins, both of whom have attacked the thesis, we believe that Peto is asking difficult questions which warrant serious consideration and debate,” says IJV spokesperson Sid Shniad. “The University of Toronto is right to stand behind her.”

“The attack on Peto,” says Shniad, “is designed to stifle discussion and debate about controversies related to the exploitation of the Holocaust by supporters of the State of Israel, labelling them anti-semitic and fomenting a climate of hysteria. The view that the Holocaust has been misused to justify Israeli actions has been the focus of research and discussion by an array of respected scholars,” Shniad declared. “Peto’s work is situated squarely within that tradition.”


For further information:
Sid Shniad (604) 314-5589 (cell)

Independent Jewish Voices – Canada is a national organization whose mandate is to promote a just resolution to the conflict in Israel and Palestine through the application of international law and respect for the human rights of all parties. IJV has chapters in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg and Vancouver as well as individual members in other locations.

For more information contact:
Sid Shniad
Independent Jewish Voices
Phone: 604-314-5589
Cell: 604-314-5589

Cell: 604-314-5589

Cell: 604-591-3099

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