Standing Up for Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom
Canadian Association of University Teachers Rejects Controversial Definition of Anti-Semitism
At its 91st Council meeting held November 26, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) took a bold stand in defence of freedom of speech and academic freedom by rejecting demands it submit to the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) so-called working definition of anti-Semitism. A resolution adopted unanimously by delegates at the meeting took a strong position against the IHRA definition, which conflates criticism and protest of Israel with anti-Semitism and is widely understood as a threat to academic freedom. The resolution was moved by the Association of Academic Staff of the University of Alberta (AASUA) and seconded by the Syndicat général des professeurs et professeures de l’Université de Montréal (SGPUM).
CAUT represents more than 70,000 faculty and academic staff in Canada.
CAUT has stated that it “opposes” the adoption of the IHRA definition by Canadian academic institutions, “supports the academic freedom of its members and recognizes the need to safeguard the rights of scholars to critique all states, including the state of Israel, without fear of outside political influence, cuts to funding, censorship, harassment, threats, and intimidation.”
CAUT’s resolution follows similar motions adopted by more than thirty faculty associations and academic unions across Canada, as well as by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA).
The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has been produced in the midst of a global campaign to silence criticism of the State of Israel and to suppress and criminalize support for the Palestinian people’s right to be. Those in authority who are trying to impose the IHRA definition claim to be doing so to oppose hate speech, but are in fact defaming and trying to promote fear and hatred against all who support the just cause of the Palestinian people. Scholars who have been mislabelled as anti-Semitic in this context include: Edward Said, Rabab Abdulhadi, Nadia Abu El-Haj, Steven Salaita, Norman Finkelstein, Angela Y. Davis, Marc Lamont Hill, Jasbir K. Puar, Nick Estes, Cornell West, Achille Mbembe, and many others.