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Analysis of CBC article: "Chilling Effect" by Ms. Brishti Basu, December 22, 2023

This letter was sent to the CBC Ombudsman who acknowledged it but provided no specific response

A Media Watchdog Analysis of CBC’s December 22 Article: “Chilling Effect”

by Annette Poizner, MSW, Ed.D.

This report has been commissioned by the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation to assess and dispute allegations made and conclusions drawn in the CBC’s article entitled: "’Chilling Effect’:People expressing pro-Palestinian views censured, suspended from work and school.” Written by Brishti Basu, this article asserts that many who publicly express support for the Palestinian cause are facing a backlash in the form of potential job loss, disciplinary actions, suspensions or hiring barriers, interventions, which in some cases are allegedly architected by Jewish groups, professionals or individuals working in concert to 'cancel' those who advocate for the Palestinian Arabs. The writer also suggests that, according to her sources, outcomes of this severity do not befall pro-Israel advocates.

In this document, we will consider the author’s various allegations.

1) Those with pro-Palestinian views are losing jobs or work opportunities owing to their advocacy for the Palestinian cause

a) Reviewing specific examples from the article

Ms. Basu asserts that many individuals with ‘pro-Palestinian views’ have lost their jobs or faced suspension specifically because of their support for the Palestinian cause. We can look at the specific instances she cites. If we see face validity in her claims, we can more confidently accept that this phenomenon is widespread.

In the first example provided, Moxies Restaurant staff were photographed participating in an anti-Israel rally. These photos were circulated on social media. Some complained, concerned that the staff’s involvement in the rally constituted endorsement of the restaurant. The restaurant pledged to investigate and noted their company policy (screenshot of this data is provided below):

Participating in any demonstration is not permitted in uniform or on premises, and it is certainly not reflective of our corporate and brand culture.”

Another complainant received this follow-up message from the restaurant (screenshot provided below):

“The team members who were involved in the October 21st incident during their shift are no longer working at Moxies. We thank you for your patience during our formal investigation. Privacy law prohibits us from providing further information about these employees. We take the privacy, confidentiality and safety of our current and former staff as well as our guests very seriously and appreciate your understanding.”

From these missives, we establish:

a)  participating in any demonstration when in uniform contravenes this company’s policy;

b)  the employees participated in the rally DURING THEIR SHIFTS.

The company would seem to have photographs - irrefutable evidence - showing employees contravening company policy, diverted away from responsibilities while on a work shift, which surely constitutes just cause for dismissal.

Indeed, the feedback given to Ms. Basu by that restaurant is consistent with this explanation. Ms. Basu writes:

“‘Moxies is a hospitality company, not a political organization,’ the company said via email. ‘Any actions that we have taken with our team members are solely related to employee behaviour while at work and in uniform.’”

When we see the obvious cause for dismissal, it would seem odd to conceive an alternate cause. Further, since the restaurant’s privacy code prevents the company from commenting on why employees are fired, journalistic integrity would, presumably, bar journalists from making attributions that are unlikely, especially when these can’t be confirmed nor denied by a restaurant bound by its own privacy policies.

Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital doctor: Ms. Basu writes, “In October, a nephrologist at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital in Richmond Hill, Ont., was suspended after posting pro-Palestinian views on social media and later reinstated after the hospital said it determined it was safe for him to return to work.”

The hospital asserts the doctor was suspended because of death threats made in response to his posts. The hospital asserts he was suspended for his safety and that of his colleagues. He was allowed to return when the threat was abated. All this is acknowledged in the article: “the doctor was reinstated after the hospital said it determined it was safe for him to return to work.” In fact, the article links to another which states: “Mackenzie Health said in a statement Thursday it was an "unprecedented, temporary measure … to allow us to fully assess and address the real safety and security threats."

This incident is misrepresented by the journalist. The pro-Palestinian advocate was not suspended because of political views.

Ms. Basu reported that Bashir Munye, a culinary instructor at George Brown College, was put on paid leave while it investigated complaints related to one of his Instagram posts. She also described the case of the University of Ottawa’s suspension of Dr. Yipeng Ge, a medical resident. In both cases, posts included what has been presented prominently in the news cycle, a chant that calls for the genocide of the Jewish people: "from the rivers to the sea Palestine will be free,” thus negating the very existence of Israel.

Two Ivy League university presidents have resigned, called out for their refusal to acknowledge a call for the elimination of the Jewish state as bullying and harassment. Canadian MP’s have now asked Canadian university presidents to clarify whether calls for the elimination of the Jewish people are permissible on their campuses. Ms. Basu is framing her narrative in line with partisan interests, ignoring the fact that the world has awakened to a shocking tolerance for calls for the elimination of the Jewish people.

Global News reporter fired. Ms. Basu implies that Zahraa Al-Akhrass, a Palestinian Canadian journalist, was unfairly fired when her employer suggested that some social media posts promoted violence (“amplifying violence or discrimination against any group is not condoned and is a violation of our company policies”) and gave a "perception of serious, journalistic bias."

In the Moxies example, above, we see Ms. Basu seems unaware that breaking company policies is a reasonable cause for termination of employment. When the writer harbours the same attitude here, in this instance, we are, therefore, not surprised.

Further, Ms Basu has been allowed to publish this article, one which, we will continue to see, creates the perception of serious, journalistic bias. Since similar preferential treatment was not extended to Ms. Al-Akhrass by her then employer, this stringency becomes evidence (to Ms. Basu, only) of a media outlet censoring a pro-Palestinian voice.

b. More examples of firing and suspension

In the event the journalist did not have an adequate sample of ‘pro-Palestinian’ individuals who have been suspended or fired in order to adjudicate why they are incurring negative consequences, we, here, present other incidents.. We will consider whether these people were censured for pro-Palestinian advocacy or for other reasons.

Christian Zaarour, an anesthesiologist with the Hospital for Sick Children and a teacher at the University of Toronto’s Department of Medicine, wrote on Instagram :“We consider Israel to be an absolute evil. There is nothing worse than Israel. If Israel and the devil fight each other, we will stand with the devil.”

Dr. Zaarour was put on paid administrative leave owing to his antisemitism, not owing to his pro-Palestinian advocacy.

Driver of CDS, Commercial Drywall Supply circles around Jewish pedestrians, stops and screams, “F–k you, Jew.” The company is contacted and the driver is fired for antisemitic behaviour, not for pro-Palestinian advocacy.

The University of Alberta fired Samantha Pearson, Director of the university’s Sexual Assault Centre over an open letter which casts doubts about reports of sexual violence against Israeli citizens on October 7, 2023.

The Jewish Federation of Edmonton tweeted:

“Samantha Pearson, @ualbertasac director, and the @ualbertasac have signed a letter alleging that Israelis were not raped or sexually assaulted by #Hamas terrorists on Oct 7. Shouldn’t a sexual assault center believe all the victims and not just the non-Jewish ones?”

Samantha Pearson’s comments were flagrantly antisemitic.

Air Canada fires pilot

As per the CTV report, we read:

The U.S.-based group shared Instagram screenshots of a man identified as Mostafa Ezzo in pro-Palestinian colours while wearing his pilot uniform and holding a sign at a demonstration in Montreal that referenced Hitler.

One of the screenshots from an Instagram account allegedly belonging to Ezzo promoted the protest with the caption: "Burn in hell." Another post allegedly showed Ezzo holding a sign showing an Israeli flag being dumped into a trash can with the messaging: "Keep the world clean."

It would appear that this individual was fired because he publicly undertook virulently antisemitic messaging, all this while wearing his company’s uniform. Wearing that uniform while undertaking a protest likely contravenes Air Canada’s policies.

Muslim Chaplain at Toronto Hospital for Sick Children put on a paid leave

A video clip has surfaced showing Imam Ayman Taher praising the founder of Hamas held responsible for the deaths of several Israeli citizens. The hospital has put this individual on paid leave while they investigate. Generously praising an individual who has murdered Jews and called for the destruction of the Jewish state is antisemitic.

Hassan Nouman, a Sales Rep at Royal LePage, dismissed from brokerage

Hassan Nouman, a Sales Rep at Royal LePage, posted comments on Instagram claiming that the milk carton at Yonge and Eglinton depicting the hostages in Gaza is propaganda, and that "Jewish American pedophiles go to Israel for safety.” These posts were brought to the attention of the brokerage and that relationship was immediately terminated . . . for flagrant Jew hatred, not for pro-Palestinian advocacy.

2)   Pro-Israel Advocates Are Not Experiencing Job Loss or Suspensions

The next matter to address is the author’s claim that while pro-Palestinian advocates are being effectively punished for their humanitarian concerns, facing serious outcomes like job loss, those who support Israel are not subject to similar serious untoward employment consequences. The question becomes how a journalist who wished to investigate this matter would best come up with data. Ms. Basu reached out to three lawyers to collect data, then stated:

None of the lawyers who spoke with CBC News had been notified of similar cases relating to expressions of support for Israel.”

Ms. Basu’s approach was flawed. The Jewish community has responded to skyrocketing antisemitism by establishing resources for community members through formal organizations. Many Jews, struggling financially, will not secure a private lawyer if antisemitism threatens their livelihood. Instead, they access help from their community.

The Centre for Israel & Jewish Affairs has engaged the services of 60 lawyers who are functioning in a volunteer capacity to help members of the community contending with antisemitism. The Matas Law Society, a subcommittee of the League for Human Rights is an activist law society similarly deployed to address needs in the community. Another organization providing pro bono legal support for those dealing with antisemitism in work or other contexts is The Lawfare Project.

A journalist aspiring to learn about the employment challenges facing Jews in the community would reach out to these organizations.

For our purposes, we disprove Ms. Basu’s assertion that pro-Israel supporters have not been subject to job loss by accessing data from the web. Journalists who wish to gain a more fulsome understanding of the employment challenges facing pro-Israel Jews are advised to contact the organizations mentioned above.

Realtor forced to resign

Barry Lebow was forced to resign from RE/MAX based on a post of his put up in a closed Jewish Facebook group, which was misquoted, falsely saying that he called for the total destruction of Gaza. Mr. Lebow then got death threats (reported to the police) and was viciously attacked on social media.

What should be noted is that the Facebook group Everything Jewish is routinely breeched by pro-Palestinian activists who are capturing posts and sending them to employers, exactly the tactic supposedly being used to sabotage the pro-Palestinian advocates.

Please note the administrator of the group discusses the the breach and reports that content is being shared in a pro-Palestinian Facebook group.

Toronto voice actress loses role based on her anti-Hamas comments on social media

Professor who supports Israel and calls out Hamas is put on academic leave

Geriatrician Dr. Ted Rosenberg tendered his resignation, no longer willing to teach at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine, where he has been on faculty for 30 years, as he doesn’t feel safe there as a Jew. His letter speaks for itself and represents another Jew who has had devastating work consequences as a result of his Jewishness.

We will now provide examples where pro-Palestinian advocates are vigorously lobbying for disciplinary action against those who support the right of the Jewish state to exist and define the October 7 actions of Hamas as terrorism.

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East calls for suspension of educator with the Ottawa Carleton school board

Lisa Levitan is an educator who believes Israel has the right to exist. She is often interviewed by the media and spoke at an Ottawa-based antisemitism conference in the fall. She's been speaking out about antisemitism in schools for almost 3 years. CJPME is calling for her suspension for calling out the terrorism of Hamas.

Call for disciplinary action for Shelley Laskin, Ward 8 Trustee with the TDSB

Pro-Palestinian activists demand censure for Shelley Laskin who calls out terrorism.

3) ‘No Hire Lists’ Are Silencing Pro-Palestinian Advocates

The next section of this document addresses the reports that pro-Palestinian activists are being targeted by ‘No Hire’ lists, which purportedly threaten their occupational success. The article cites a list discussed in a closed Facebook group called Canadian Jewish Physicians; one physician advances the idea to disseminate a list of medical students who had signed an open letter calling for a ceasefire and critiquing Israeli military actions.

The article also referenced an open letter signed by 650 lawyers, law students and professors across Canada who allege that some in the profession have been “contacting the employers of lawyers and encouraging they be fired for their pro-Palestinian advocacy” (we hear of no actual examples where a lawyer is subsequently fired as a result of this alleged interference, whereas this action was successfully executed in the case of a Jewish realtor mentioned above). Another similar statement issued by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association was mentioned, one which expresses concern about a ‘chilling effect’ of free expression relative to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Suggesting that members of the Jewish community are weaponizing against those with opposing political views is the kind of narrative that feeds into antisemitic tropes (“the Jews run the world, the Jews control the weather”) and thus this topic warrants detailed consideration. This topic also needs to be considered because, in another section, we will learn that the anti-Israel interest group is weaponizing against Jews who are Zionists.

In the CBC article, Ms Basu presents a screenshot of a private conversation amongst doctors, one of whom says he shared the online letter with a program director, thereby giving access to the names of a few hundred medical students who signed the document.

That individual says, "the question is, will the file reviewer's care? . . . No idea if anything will be done with it. . . ."

Another individual comments in response: "knowing who is in academia these days it might actually be seen as a good thing they signed (emoji of an angry face)"

While Ms. Basu uses this screenshot as evidence that Jews are conspiring to create negative repercussions for signees of the letter, we, and the doctors, themselves, note the reality: Israel is routinely vilified on campus, the perspectives advanced in that letter are the requisite, politically correct and pervasively endorsed attitudes that prevail in the world of medical education, regarding Israel and the Palestinian conflict, this according to a recently published report by Dr. Ayelet Kuper, documenting the degree to which the University of Toronto’s medical school is awash with anti-Zionism and antisemitism.

Even the discussants in the group suspect their efforts will be fruitless because the prevailing mentality in administration easily aligns with the worldview expressed in the open letters.

A few people undertake a casual and private chat, brainstorming an idea while, simultaneously, realizing that they probably can’t have much impact. For CBC, this casual moment will be weaponized to prop up a weak narrative.

Next, we consider the letters signed by law students, lawyers and law professors in response to a ‘No Hire’ list established by lawyer/journalist Howard Levitt following the publication of an antisemitic petition signed by 74 law students at the Lincoln Alexander School of Law at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU). Having denied Israel as a country and endorsed all or any forms of Palestinian resistance in their letter, Mr. Levitt established a ‘no hire’ list with the names of these students and advised that law firms would be justified in excluding these students, should they be allowed to graduate.

CBC gives a generous platform to open letters which justify terrorism and leave the impression that the pro-Palestinian perspective is being suppressed, when the actual reality is that Jews on campus cannot express any support for Israel without risking repercussions, including the threat of physical harm. In other words, these letters assert a narrative that counters reality, the same narrative being advanced in this CBC article.

With regard to the injustice of this ‘No Hire’ list, the final word can go to the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. According to a report in the The Breach, that Ministry is requiring law students from TMU who are offered employment to sign a statement attesting that they did not sign the open letter as a term for confirming their employment. If they are later to have been found to have lied about this, the result may be revocation of their job or dismissal.

Mr. Levitt writes in his December 23 Financial Post article,

The Breach reported that the ministry said the students who signed the letter had used ‘their platform as students of the law to express antisemitic views, display intolerance and excuse terrorism.’”

The CBC gives a generous platform for documents which those in the field hold in contempt.

5. Pro-Palestinian Advocates Are Subject to Slur Campaigns

The article suggests that many pro-Palestinian advocates are succumbing to campaigns which target them for their pro-Palestinian views. We cannot assess this claim. Perhaps there are a myriad of cases, each disconnected from the others, and there is no way to track or document these.

In terms of actual documented slur campaigns, though, the CBC was informed of a widespread harassment campaign targeting Jewish doctors. See below for the screenshot, providing evidence of the press release sent days before their article was published.

The CBC neither acknowledged the release nor demonstrated interest in the story.

In the aftermath of a November 22 open statement on Zionism and antisemitism from 555

Jewish physicians, hundreds of complaints directed at these signees were filed with the University and various Toronto hospitals. The complaints are part of an ongoing social media campaign against the signees and other Jewish doctors regarding their previous social media posts, retweets or likes. The doctors’ names, photographs and workplaces are being spread to thousands of social media followers. The public is being encouraged to complain to the hospitals, the university and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

The University and some hospitals have been calling in Jewish physicians for “discussions”. In almost all cases, the complainants are not identified nor is their complaint shown to the Jewish doctors. It is difficult for the Jewish doctors to defend themselves against vague complaints.

Since Ms. Basu comments that pro-Palestinian advocates are targeted with complaints by anonymous people, this campaign seems relevant to those purporting to document the chilling effect. We can recall the following from Ms. Basu’s article:

“‘A lot of the time, what's happening to them [the pro-Palestinian supporters] is a result of anonymous sources reaching out to their employers or to their institutions, raising concerns with either their behaviour or something they have said or [are] alleged to have said,’ Fathalipour said”

Please see Appendix A to read the letter signed by the physicians which prompted the slur campaign designed to discredit or punish the doctors for publicly affirming their Zionism and calling for recognition of and remediation of antisemitism in academic and other spaces.

The next document provides further evidence that efforts are being extended to entrap Zionists into communication designed to compromise their professionalism and to justify complaints. The effort here is to collect ‘incriminating’ data. This missive was sent to DARA, Doctors Against Racism and Antisemitism.

From: US Doctors for Israel <>

Date: Fri, Dec 29, 2023 at 10:35 AM

Subject: Pro-Israel US Doctors

We are a group of US based Pro-Israel Academic Doctors who, who with the help of the Israeli government, have had success advocating our rights in the US. We fortunately have the ear of your Prime Minister and provincial leadrs. We can hopefully help shape your country's policy with your support.

We must fight and overcome the ongoing criticism of our beloved homeland and move forward with the necessary steps to ensure its survival and success of its people. We endorse the defense of our homeland and our people. We support any and all means to ensure a successful outcome for our country and our people. Yes, this means the death of civilians and children on the terrorist state side but we see these actions as necessary. In our view, Israel's survival is tied to the acquisition of Gaza.

This is our right.

Our discussion with your government will focus on anti-semitism, our safety and the trials and tribulations our people face domestically and internationally both in public spheres and in academic spheres. Furthermore, we are engaging your positioned leaders in academia and health care to take the following steps to ensure we persist in our success:

a) Advocacy: ensure any and all criticisms of Israel are reported. Brother Yoni showed us the success of this at the University of Ottawa. Any concerns, even legitimate concerns, that oppose Israel will be silenced and expelled from academic walls

b) Leadership: commit to only advancing our Jewish brothers and sisters into positions of influence and formal leadership. This includes Chiefs or Chairs of departments, executive leaders and state or provincial leadership. Without the proper leaders in place we cannot succeed

c) Research: supporting our researchers and ensuring they get public visibility over others and prioritizing their research initiatives and funding over others.

d) DEI: we are seeing it crumbling at some of our major universities in the US. This is a positive for us as "white, Jewish" leaders and academics were seen as anti-DEI. As the DEI philosophy falls, we will rise. Brother Philip's article in the Toronto Star highlights the problems with DEI.

Lastly, anonymity is essential. We believe we need to work in the shadows to be successful as there are many opposing voices out there currently. Please share any concerns with our approach. Also, please share if you support our approach and if you feel comfortable with us sharing just your position/title with stakeholders. It will go a long way if we can say a Chief, Chair or prominent researcher in the city of xyz is in agreement with us. Please also circulate amongst trusted brothers and sisters. Only together can we succeed.

Victory and strength,

Your brothers and sisters from the US

These trolls hope to receive emails endorsing an approach that is the fulfillment of the most long standing antisemitic tropes: Jews want to take over leadership, stifle opposition - even legitimate critiques, favour themselves, etc. etc.

The graphic above, posted by a pro-Palestinian advocacy organization, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, is presented to demonstrate a tactic which entails classifying mainstream Jewish organizations as purveyors of ‘anti-Palestinian’ racism, including the organization that has commissioned this report. Indeed, it is most likely that this report, designed to question the factual integrity of the article under dispute, will be erroneously labeled ‘anti-Palestinian’, a label that is generously endowed, as we see in the examples below.

Rebecca Katzman, a social worker who was then studying social work at Ryerson University, requested an internship at the United Jewish Appeal or a local Jewish community center. She was advised that neither of these placements would be permitted, falsely told that both organizations were "anti-Palestinian." Either internship, though, would be permitted if the student agreed to go to either setting and do advocacy for the Palestinian cause. Ms. Katzman rejected this offer and ultimately took her story to the press upon graduating.

A second incident targeted Irwin Cotler, McGill Law Professor Emeritus, International Human Rights Lawyer, and former Member of Parliament, Attorney General and Minister of Justice. In the latter role, he tabled Canada's first-ever National Justice Initiative Against Racism, At the time of this incident, Mr. Cotler was serving as Canada’s Special Envoy for Holocaust Remembrance and Anti-Semitism. He was accused of “inciting anti-Palestinian racism” at a talk he gave at the University of Toronto’s medical school to mark the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In the aftermath of the presentation, 45 University of Toronto staff members signed a petition condemning the speech. They claimed the event was “reinforcing anti-Palestinian racism” and called out Cotler’s endorsement of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.

They also took issue with the “special interest groups” which co-sponsored the event, naming Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies as particularly problematic.

According to the public letter, such ‘special interest groups’ are intimidating people of color (explanation not provided), and allegedly sending “a chilling message to other faculty and students.”

Three hundred and fifty University of Toronto faculty members signed an open letter denouncing their colleagues, calling attention to “the falsehoods, twisted logic and anti-Semitic rhetoric that are contained in the letter sent by other faculty members to the Temerty Faculty of Medicine in which they condemn Irwin Cotler’s presentation on ‘Contemporary Antisemitism.’ ”

In short, this technique of gratuitously labelling Jews or Jewish organizations as anti-Palestinian is egregious bullying, unwarranted, and imposes a chilling effect against Jews, making it difficult for them to identify as Zionists or as Jews.

Finally, please be aware that cities across Canada have been besieged by anti-Israel rallies which have had their own chilling effect, blocking traffic, intimidating those in the vicinity, threats of violence have been issued and the chilling effect on the police has been most evident. What has just come to light in the Toronto Sun is that a British Columbia organization has been paying actors to attend these rallies! The cost for wage replacement and other costs associated with the rallies runs about $20,000 per month for this organization. We now find that there is evidence that the pro-Palestinian movement is paying protesters to come to the overpass in the Jewish neighbourhood and intimidate Jews, while the CBC insists that a chilling effect is inflicted on the pro-Palestinian supporters!

4)   The Pro-Palestinian Advocates are Subject to the Chilling Effect to a Greater Magnitude than that Experienced by Pro-Israel Advocates

Ms. Basu’s above-mentioned claim, based on a review of the data she presents and some of the data she excludes, seems to be unsubstantiated. In this section, we will examine additional data the journalist has failed to cite, directly related to the ‘chilling effect’, even though the CBC was sent a press release last February about challenges experienced by some Jews undertaking social work education at several Canadian schools (below please see some of the addresses at CBC to which the press release was circulated, none of which responded to the story).

Readers are referred to a paper entitled, "Exclusion, Isolation, and Rejection: Emerging

Anecdotal Reports of Jews Studying Social Work. Preliminary Findings." This preliminary report (authored by this researcher, alongside another, and several contributors) documents troubling findings emerging from Qualitative Research which has been exploring the lived experience of some Canadian Jews undertaking social work study. Based on interviews with the first nine current students/recent graduates who participated in the research, the authors reported,

"some Jews experienced fear of being "canceled" because of their Jewishness, were subjected to micro-aggressions or hateful course content or felt pressured to parrot ideologies that countered their Jewish values. Several claim Jewish identity was denigrated and grossly misunderstood in their programs."

Participants also documented a curriculum and school environment which is virulently anti-Israel, with Arab nationalism being privileged and Jewish nationalism dismissed. Researchers were also told by some students that, in a program which honours narratives of individuals, the narratives of Arabs were privileged and the narratives of Jews and Israelis were consistently omitted. Indeed, the latter revelation was more generally discussed in a peer-reviewed article entitled, "Empowering the lived experience voices of Arabs but not Jews:

The attempted subversion of universal social work values by the extremist Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement" by Professor Philip Mendes (Monash University Department of Social Work).[1]

Despite its relevance to the topic at hand, the Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism open-source article went unnoticed by the CBC researcher. The study has generated coverage both in Israel, in the international Jewish press and, forthcoming, in the National Post..

In fact, there is further evidence that Jews in social work education have been subject to a chilling effect for decades. A former associate professor of social work (McMaster University) left academia and became a novelist. Dr. Nora Gold wrote Fields of Exile, a book inspired by what she saw taking place in social work education, both in Canada and internationally.

In her award-winning book, she documents the story of a fictionalized Jewish student, a left-wing progressive Jew and former peace activist in Israel. This young woman returns to Ontario to visit family and decides to stay to do a one year graduate degree in social work. The book recounts the relentless antisemitism that she experiences over the course of her degree.

The story is set in 2002. The story is dated only by a few particulars, events from the 2002 news cycle. Were it not for those prompts, readers in social work might assume the book is current. A social work student currently studying in one of Ontario’s highly politicized social work schools would find in the story common lived experiences with those of the protagonist. This fiction book becomes archival data that demonstrates that students with strong Jewish identities undertaking social work education have been undergoing a chilling effect for no less than 20 years.

Finally, one more source can demonstrate the negative messaging around Zionism that typifies the field of social work. One local social worker, Rahim Thawer, is listed on the website for his affiliation with the University of Toronto’s Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies. According to his profile, he functions as a psychotherapist, a supervisor of interns studying counselling, and a sessional lecturer amongst other functions. We read that he has taught as a post-secondary lecturer at two colleges and three universities in Ontario, including the University of Toronto. In other words, he has standing in academia.

Mr Thawer recently published an article on entitled, Object Relations Theory and Therapy for the Disillusioned Nationalist,” describing his obligation to “hold a neutral space while hearing about people’s love and devotion for Israel . . . “ . " He admits that, faced with the Zionism of some clients, he is awash with feelings of anger or disgust, classically called ‘counter-transference,’ the private responses that therapists may normatively experience in the course of doing psychotherapy. Despite his own strong negative reactions to Zionism, he positions himself as a clinical supervisor for a therapist who shares this particular repulsion.

He informs that his supervisee has, since October 7, “been feeling frequent dysregulation when one of her patients, a Zionist, has been talking about feeling “unsafe” to talk about her feelings as a Canadian Jew outside the therapy space.” He goes on, in his article, to conceive Zionism as something that clients might, hopefully, outgrow, in the same sense that a child reveres the parent but comes to see their flaws, with maturity and the gaining of perspective.

The article, with its abhorrence for Jewish nationalism, provides a window into the distaste for the particulars of the Jewish identity that is familiar to Jews in the field, The shamelessness in admitting this reaction is telling and meaningful.

Summary Statement

This report has been prepared to dispute the accuracy of the CBC’s article: "People expressing pro-Palestinian views censured, suspended from work and school."

On the basis of what we document here, we assert a failure to maintain journalistic standards relative to:

a)  the data selected for inclusion in this article,

b)  the interpretation of that data,

c)  the methods used in an apparent effort to secure representative data, and

d)  the exclusion of data that has been ignored, despite the media outlet’s expressed interest to investigate the chilling effect.

We see evidence of story suppression and a narrative shaped in a way that is inconsistent with the actual data.

The implications of this reporting would be of particular concern to the Jewish community at a time when antisemitism is surging. On the basis of this documentation, it is suggested that the CBC’s published article vilifies Jews, misrepresents the negative consequences meted out to pro-Palestinian supporters, under-reports the antisemitism facing Jews who support Israel and fails to represent data fully and to accurately capture and represent the phenomenon discussed.

Appendix A


The Israel Gaza War is causing agony for many TFOM faculty and polarization in the TFOM. We feel immense anguish over the suffering and deaths of innocent Israelis and Palestinians. We believe in the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to self-determination and statehood.

Yet, on the streets of Toronto and in the TFOM itself, the hostile and belligerent position towards Jews who identify with the state of Israel, or who identify as Zionists, is discriminatory. The distinction between anti-Zionism and antisemitism is tissue thin. Only for Jews is self-determination and autonomy – Zionism – denounced as a racist endeavour. Only for Jews is living in their indigenous homeland considered “colonialism.”

We, therefore, hold the following as central to our identity as Jews in the TFOM:

  • We affirm the right of TFOM faculty to be openly Zionist and to support the right of Israel to exist and defend itself as a Jewish state and for those faculty to be free of public ostracism, recrimination, exclusion, and discrimination in the TFOM.

  • To us, being a Zionist in 2023 means that we accept the right and the necessity of the survival of the Jewish people, and the existence of a Jewish state that ensures their survival. Anything that undermines or threatens Israel’s survival, undermines, or threatens the existence of the Jewish people and is, ipso facto, antisemitic.

  • We know that accusations against Israel as “apartheid”, “colonialist”, or “white supremacist” or committing genocide are mendacious and aim to promote the argument that Israel should be dismantled as a Jewish state, making such accusations themselves antisemitic.

  • We reject as antisemitic any blame on Israel for Hamas’ slaughter of Jews and non-Jews, and any justification for the slaughter because of historical context, opposition to settlements and occupation, or legitimate resistance.

  • We reject as antisemitic any claims of equivalency between the Israeli people’s right to self-defence against terrorist groups who seek to annihilate Israel and the Jewish people, and the Hamas terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

  • We reject as antisemitic any claims of equivalency between the duty of Israel to rescue its citizens who are being held hostage by Hamas and the Hamas terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

  • We reject as antisemitic the imposition of a collective political responsibility on

  • Jews to denounce Israel simply because they are Jews. We affirm the right of

  • Jews alone to define antisemitism for themselves absent any interference from those outside of the Jewish community.

  • We implore the TFOM in any investigation of antisemitism to apply the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

  • We reject the expectation that Jews must reach total consensus on the definition of antisemitism; we know that the vast majority of Jewish TFOM faculty endorse the IHRA definition; and we disavow the weight given to a tiny minority of Jewish faculty who object to the IHRA definition.

  • We abjure the cover of “academic freedom” within the TFOM to permit unrestrained antagonism by some TFOM faculty to Zionist Jews and their publicization of grotesque and antisemitic characterizations of Israel, the only Jewish state.

  • We believe that academic freedom is not absolute. In particular, leaders in academic medicine with power over learners and faculty, who in some cases are the sole leader responsible for thousands of learners and faculty, should not be issuing statements which collide with equity, diversity and inclusion for Jews or which make Jews feel unsafe and unwelcome in the TFOM and which are unrelated or unessential to their core academic role, research, and publishing of results.

  • We ask and expect that Jews receive the same consideration and protection that the TFOM provides to other minority groups.


[1] Migration und Soziale Arbeit (ISSN 1432-6000), Ausgabe 1, Jahr 2023, Seite 35 - 44


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