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Dr. Haskel Greenfield

U of M Faculty Association motion calling for Ceasefire in Israel-Palestine and lifting blockade of Gaza is Defeated-Would infringe Academic Freedom of those on the other side

The Faculty Association has never spoken out about other conflicts in the world

by Rhonda Spivak Dec 4, 2023



At the  Univeristy of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) Decc 13, 2023 Board of Representatives meeeting a  motion was brought forward that indicated that UMFA supports the call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Israel-Palestine and an end to the blockade of Gaza 

The motion stated, "Since October 7, Israel’s army has displaced nearly 2 million Gazan residents and killed over 15 000 Palestinians. We condemn Hamas’s attacks on civilians. We recognize the legitimate fears that both our Jewish and Muslim and/or Palestinian colleagues are facing. We believe that this situation cannot be solved with violence and must be approached with diplomacy going forward. We say this in solidarity with the faculty of Islamic University of Gaza and Al-Azhar University, both of which have been bombed by the Israeli military. We grieve the death of IUG President Sufyan Tayeh, a leading Gaza researcher in physics and applied mathematics, as well as the countless Palestinian teachers and students that have been killed in the bombings. Israeli bombs are not only destroying Gazan land and buildings; they’re also killing the scholars that support the intellectual life of Palestine." 

The motion was moved by David Camfield, Joe Curnow, Jonathan Jenner, Dan McCafferty, Ruby Warren, and Erin Weinberg.

Weinberg, an instructor of English literature at the U of M, is Jewish, but is an-anti-zionist. She proudly who wore an arab kafiyeh around her neck to the meeting to emphasize her political affiliation and solidarity with the Palestinian people.

On Nov 6, in a post on X, (Dr. Erin Weinberg@TheBardolator) Weinberg wrote "I was raised Zionist....I only came to understand that Zionism as we know it  IS violence during my PhD. It's embarassing that it took so long, but it's also never too late for a paradigm shift."

The motion was defeated with  24 voting against, 10 in favour and 8 abstentions.

A number of people voted against the motion because they were concerned that if the motion passed, it would infringe on the academic freedom and free speech of those professors who disagreed with  the call for a ceasefire and ending the blockade of Gaza, since they would be bound by it.

Haskel Greenfield, co-ordinator of Judaic Studies at the U of M and a Distinguished  Professor of Anthropology spoke against the motion. He noted that UMFA "ignores the 30 other conflicts going on around the world," and "It ignored issuing anything on the Ukraine" and "It ignored issuing anything on the murder and rape of innocents in Israel on October 7."  According to Greenfield, UMFA categorically has no business delving into politics that do not benefit its membership," and "no right to make a statement that is so unbalanced." Greenfield added that if UMFA  suppored one side in the conflict , then it must support the other side to show balance that reflects UMFA'sr membership.  He stressed that UMFA is a university union not an international organization.

Other Jewish faculty spoke out against the motion at the meeting as well


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.