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CAEF Research Director receives legal support from The Lawfare Project & Toronto based RE-LAW LLP

Research by CAEF and partners, under the direction of Annette Poizner, points to significant concerns re antisemitism in social work education and the paucity, if not total absence of education about antisemitism while focusing on oppression and discrimination of marginalized groups.

NEW CASE: "Zionists" excluded from social worker's professional referral network

The Lawfare Project, in partnership with Toronto law firm RE-LAW LLP, has issued a Libel Notice and cease-and-desist notice on behalf of Annette Poizner, a Canada-based social worker, to a fellow practitioner regarding antisemitic and defamatory emails sent to a large professional social work listserv.

Ms. Poizner, who was concerned by reports of antisemitism at several Canadian social work schools, undertook qualitative research and published accounts provided by respondents in an open source article, "Exclusion, Isolation, and Rejection: Emerging Anecdotal Reports of Jews Studying Social Work. Preliminary Findings.” The article, which appeared in the peer-reviewed Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism, summarized that the social work curricula of five Canadian schools address various forms of hatred/oppression in the greatest of detail but consistently omit the study of antisemitism and include reports from several respondents that Zionism is, at times, vilified in courses or readings.

Annette Poizner, a Toronto-based social worker who has been researching antisemitism in her field, was accused by a fellow practitioner of being a "racist" and "anti-Arab" solely because Ms. Poizner identifies as a Zionist.

Recently, in an incident that parallels findings of Ms. Poizner’s ongoing research, another Ontario-based social worker circulated emails on the listserv of their professional association in which she stated that her referral network necessarily excludes Zionists. She accused Ms. Poizner of being a racist and harboring anti-Arab sentiments because of her Zionist identity, and represented Ms. Poizner’s Zionism as supporting a genocidal ideology impacting her professional integrity and patient care.

"We are dismayed that Ms. Poizner and other Jewish social workers have been expressly excluded from a colleague’s referral list on the basis of her Judaism, which encapsulates her Zionist values," said David Elmaleh, one of RE-LAW’s founding partners and counsel to Ms. Poizner. "To suggest that our client espouses genocidal views because she believes in the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in its indigenous homeland is in our view plainly discriminatory and antisemitic. We look forward to assisting Ms. Poizner with her case, which we understand is emblematic of a much larger issue, given concerning reports of antisemitism in the social work field."

The Lawfare Project encourages students and social workers contending with antisemitism within their courses, internships, or on the job to reach out to inquire about pro bono legal representation.

"Excluding or blacklisting Jewish individuals is unacceptable in any context, and all the more appalling when perpetrated by a healthcare professional against others in their field," said Benjamin Ryberg, COO and Director of Research at The Lawfare Project. "We hope that the individual who sent these antisemitic and discriminatory emails will take steps to remedy the situation without the need for subsequent legal action."


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