Who Is Valentina Azarova?
Why Do Leftist Academic Jew-Haters Love Her So Much?
The University of Toronto and its Law School are embroiled in a controversy. Back in the 1940’s to 1950’s the University was openly antisemitic. It had quotas for Jews in their medical school, dental school, law school, and likely in other faculties. At least it was an open secret. Nobody liked to talk about it very much. It needed to stay quiet so that the 25 Jews allowed into the dental school wouldn’t be cut back even further.
1. Who are the world’s worst human rights offenders?
Fast forward to 2021. Being antisemitic has just about become normalized at academic institutions like the University of Toronto. Today they call it anti-Zionism, but it’s just a cover for the same old Jew hatred. Even the average person without a degree from esteemed U. of T., Harvard, or Yale, knows there are far worse human rights violations in Iran, Syria, China, Russia, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, Turkey, Lebanon, Congo, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and dozens of other countries, than in tiny little Israel.
While over a million Muslim Arabs in Syria have been brutally murdered, with violence continuing, does the world even care? Most likely not, since the Jews cannot be blamed.
So now the University of Toronto Law School wants to hire a Director for their International Human Rights Program. There are likely many qualified candidates in the new growth industry of human rights. There are probably more countries than ever before violating people’s rights to a free press, sexual preference, gender identity, women’s rights, religious freedom, educational opportunities, property rights, free elections, and more.
2. What background do you need to Direct a Human Rights Program?
But clearly, the best candidate for Directing the Human Rights program at the University of Toronto’s Law School has to have cut her teeth fighting against the world’s most famous human rights violator of all time – the state of Israel. All else pales in comparison. So, it should come as no surprise that the clear winner, according to the esteemed selection committee, by far, of all the candidates, is Valentina Azarova.
3. Why was Azarova not hired?
In spite of the selection committee’s unanimous and strong recommendation to hire her, the Dean did not accept her appointment. That’s when all hell broke loose.
Let’s set aside a few relevant aspects of the university’s failure to hire her. First, the controversy was triggered because a Jewish Justice, David Spiro (also an alumni and donor), voiced his opinion to a friend (an administrator at the university) on the appointment. Apparently, Jews of high profile aren’t supposed to speak up. They need to remain silent, even though little is known about the backgrounds of those who spoke in her favour.
That is, except for University of Toronto Faculty Association president, Terezia Zoric. On June 15, when speaking at York University, Zoric made reference to an “entitled powerful Zionist minority” which was engaging in “psychological warfare.” Imagine if she talked that way about Blacks or Muslims. In today’s “cancel culture” she would be forced to resign immediately. Ironically, the “powerful Zionist minority” doesn’t have enough power to get even a mild rebuke from anyone for Zoric’s vicious Jew hatred.
As a result of Spiro speaking up, the powerful “woke Palestinian/leftist lobby,” or “the mob” is now pushing to have Spiro fired as a judge. Enough said about Zoric.
The University of Toronto commissioned the Honourable Thomas Cromwell, a former Supreme Court judge, to conduct an independent and impartial review of the issue. He reported that Azarova was not hired due to her legal ineligibility to work in Canada until months after the position’s start date. In addition, the position firmly required a candidate who is licensed to practice law, but Azarova is not licensed as a lawyer in any jurisdiction.
4. Who is Azarova and what has she done?
There can be no question that the esteemed selection committee vetted Azarova’s background and accomplishments in minute detail. She most definitely fits the bill of today’s ideal human rights champion. You can read about her accomplishments in great detail in this excellent article by Cary Nelson. While there is so much to say about her single-minded quest to destroy Israel and malign the Jewish people, yet there is too little room here to cover it all.
Let’s start with just an overview of what Nelson uncovered in Azarova’s publicly available materials on record. Practically her entire expertise and her illustrious career has been focused on:
the delegitimization of the Jewish State,
the denial of the ancient Jewish relationship to the land,
the denial of Israel’s right to self-defence,
challenge to the right of ‘Zionists’ to appear on academic platforms with her,
the redefinition of Hamas as ‘legitimate resistance’,
the endorsement of the so-called ‘one state solution’, which would see the Jewish State ended,
support for the BDS movement and campus ‘Apartheid’ weeks, and
opposition to the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism.
While these may seem like the perfect criteria for todays “human rights” champions, one only wonders how this might play out in her treatment of Jewish students at the U. of T. Hopefully, we will not get the chance to find out. However, her supporters have mounted a campaign for her to be reconsidered for the position.
5. Are the Dead Sea Scrolls part of “Palestinian” History?
Let’s look at just a couple of her crusades. The Dead Sea Scrolls, universally agreed on by all archaeologists, are ancient Jewish and Hebrew religious manuscripts that were found in the Judaean Desert.
The scrolls and fragments are the earliest known material versions of the Hebrew Bible, the sacred text of Judaism, and thus carry immense religious significance for Jews. The scrolls include no Christian or Muslim texts. Few other artifacts thus belong more decisively to Jewish cultural and religious history.
However, with the help of Azorova, the Palestinians lay claim to the Scrolls being an integral part of Palestinian history. This argument is taken seriously in spite of Azorava having no expert knowledge or credibility in the field of archeology.
While initially laughable to Israelis, this claim has been taken seriously by some adherents to “international law.” This, even though the “Palestinians” were created in 1964 with the Egyptian-born Yasser Arafat (internationally recognized terrorist) as its leader. As ludicrous as it sounds, suddenly, with her help, “Palestinians” have a history that not only supersedes but disconnects Jews from their own history.
Perhaps, while not a licensed lawyer, she may be as clever as any high-profile defense lawyer defending their more infamous, but likely guilty, clients. Her legal writings have had the effect of Israel having had to cancel scheduled exhibits of the Dead Sea Scrolls in certain western countries for fear of their being legally confiscated. They would then be tied up in the courts for years robbing Jews of an integral part of their history. How dangerous is that?
6. Why Hama’s attacks on Israel are portrayed as legal, and Israel’s self-defense is portrayed as a war crime.
Azorava has a long history of protecting Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist group. In her world, the door is open for Hamas to attack Israel at will, with Israel being to blame in any attempt at self-defense.
In 2009 she wrote a paper called, ‘Who is a civilian in Gaza?’ In it, she argues that Hamas is as a ‘non-state actor,’ even though the terrorist group has beengoverning Gaza since 2007. Her main issue, however, is how to determine who is a valid target during hostilities.
As Nelson describes it,
“She argues for a clear distinction between combatants (members of the military wing of the armed group) and fighters (‘those who sporadically participate in hostilities on an “ad hoc” basis without being members of a brigade’). The impossibility of realizing this distinction in the midst of combat in urban warfare is made considerably more difficult by Hamas’s lack of military uniforms, a fact she fails to mention. How one is to know ‘whether the individual is performing a “continuous combat function” she does not say. Yet she suggests provocatively that, without observing the distinction, Israeli reservists could be considered valid targets.”
In 2015, just following of the 2014 war with Hamas, she writes in ‘A Healthy Dose of Wartime Normative Realism’ that Israel ‘in effect eviscerates the category of civilians and undermines the principle of distinction’.
She gets more to the point in her article, ‘An International legal demarche for human rights?’ where she says that Israel has ‘disposed of the international humanitarian law principle of distinction by classifying Gaza’s civilian population as the enemy.’ As Nelson states, “That is a tendentious political argument masquerading as a fact.”
Her writings set the stage for terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah to attack Israel with impunity. It also helps generate the world-wide condemnation of Israel for even daring to try and defend itself. Self-defense by Israel, due to these “legal” arguments, often cited as “international law,” can then be legitimately claimed as “war crimes” committed by Israel. Words masquerading as laws can have devastating real-world effects.
7. The ambassador of Human Rights
It’s hard to imagine what would happen if Valentina Azorova were ever hired as Director of the International Human Rights program at University of Toronto’s Law School. How would she adjudicate another group’s human rights violations?
Would she use the model of Israel, where Jews breathing the air could be accused of taking away the oxygen of Palestinians?
Or would she choose the model of Hamas, where firing over 4,000 deadly rockets deliberately into civilian areas could be justified because all Israelis and their children might have some affiliation with the Israeli Defense Forces, if not today, maybe tomorrow?
Let’s hope we never have to find out.
Prepared for Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation and End Jew Hatred Canada