Open Letter from University of Toronto Faculty

OPEN LETTER TO President Naylor,

Dear President Naylor,

January 16, 2009

Shortly after launching the attack on Gaza, Israel’s jets bombed the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG). The Israeli state claims that the IUG is a “cultural symbol” of Hamas. Neither this nor any other justification of Israel’s disrespect for human life and breaches of international law is acceptable.

We call on you to show leadership as the president of one of the world’s largest and most respected universities in expressing solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues and students. They have been suffering from Israeli occupation, blockade and now outright destruction of their classrooms and laboratories. We also call on you to express the University of Toronto’s solidarity with our Israeli colleagues and students who have been critical of their country’s military occupation, and have been victimized and stigmatized for their moral stance. As a Rhodes Scholar at the height of the anti-Apartheid Movement, you may have witnessed first hand at Oxford how effective international academic declarations of solidarity can be to stop cycles of violence, engage in critical dialogue, and to end an apartheid regime.

We also call on you as a leading medical expert on public health and emergency relief organization to condemn Israeli actions and demand Palestinian access to aid. The population of Gaza suffers from acute shortages of medical supplies and aid. The Red Cross has expressed dismay at Israel?s denial of access to the wounded and the maimed.

This constitutes a contravention of universally accepted conduct in war. The Islamic University of Gaza is home to about 20,000 students, the majority of them female. It offers programs in all fields of education including Medicine and Nursing, Commerce and Chemistry, English and Engineering, and much more. The university is a
member of several global university associations including The International Association of Universities and the Community of Mediterranean Universities. IUG has also built links and signed agreements with international academic institutions.

Israel’s bombing of the university is one of a string of attacks against academic institutions in Gaza. The Israeli shelling of Fakhora School in Jabaliya refugee camp last week left more than forty children, teachers and staff dead. The victims had sought refuge at the school. Its campus was a clearly marked U.N. site, and the director of the United Nations Relief and Works agency, John Ging, said his office had given its GPS coordinates to the Israeli army. These attacks are part of a long term Israeli policy that violates Palestinians’ right to education. Bombing IUG and any other academic site are clear contraventions of international law and constitute a war crime.

We urge you to add your voice to ours and issue a statement in support of the academic community in Palestine. We also call on the UofT to participate in the rebuilding and rehabilitation of these academic centres. As members of UofT’s academic community in general and as individuals who are committed to a better understanding of the Middle East, we are ready to make every effort to aid in such a project.

It is particularly important that you publicly support Palestinians’ academic freedom, both individual and institutional, in light of your administration’s earlier invocation of academic freedom to explain your rejection of repeated calls for an academic boycott of Israeli universities.

We hope to receive a positive response from your office soon. The destruction of Gaza’s academic institutions and killing of its people must not happen in our name, nor under our silent gaze.


Abuodeh, Rashed, NMC
Ali, Abdel-Khalig, Lect. NMC
Ali, Khalidah, Alumnus
Aslam, Jabeen, Social and Equity Studies
Awad, Mohamed, Historical Studies
Bonakdarian, Mansour, Prof., Historical Studies
Borcherding, Julia, Philosophy
Cazdyn, Eric, Prof., East Asia Studies
Chak Wan Kam, NMC
Chandrashekar, Jessica, Alumnus
Clement, Anne, NMC
Comay, Rebecca, Prof., Philosophy
Conklin Akbari, Suzanne, Prof., English
Cowen, Deborah, Prof., Geography and Program in Planning
Creasey, Kate, Anthropology and NMC
Davis, Chandler, Prof. Em. Mathematics
Davis, Natalie, Prof. Em, History
DeLombard, Jeanine, Prof. English
Elming, Rebecca, History
Essam, Richard, NMC
Fadel, Mohammad, Prof., Law
Fitting, Peter, Prof. Em., French and Cinema Studies
Franklin, Ursula, Prof. Em.
Galbraith, David, Prof., English
Goonewardena, Kanishska, Prof., Geography and Programme in Planning
Gorman, Rachel, WGSI
Haghgou, Shirin, English
Hamel, Paul, Prof., Medicine
Hanssen, Jens, Prof. NMC/History
Harvey, Elizabeth, Prof., English
Hashemi, Nader, Prof., Alumnus
Hasnain, Sarah, NMC
Hassanpour, Amir, Prof., NMC
Hasssanpour, Binesh, Alumnus
Hehner, Eric, Prof., Computer Science
Helou, Joe, Political Science,
Hemlow, Emily, NMC
Inci, Zeynep, NMC
Itwaru, A.H., Prof., Caribbean Studies
Jagoe, Eva-Lynn, Prof., Spanish and Comparative Literature
Jain, Kajri, History of Art,
Jarzmik, Oscar, NMC
Kassamali, Sumayya, Sociology and Equity Studies
Kilibarda, Kole, Alumnus
Kingston, Paul, Prof., Political Science
Klein, Martin, Prof. Em., History
Kuntz, Blair, Librarian
Lee, Richard B., Prof. Em., Anthropology
Mills, Kenneth, Prof., History
Misgeld, Dieter, Prof. Em., Theory and Policy Studies, OISE
Mittermaier, Amira, Prof., Centre for Study of Religion and NMC
Mojab, Shahrzad, Prof., Adult Education and Continuing Psychology
Molavi, Shourideh, Alumnus
Mouftah, Nermeen, NMC
Murphy, Michelle, Prof., History and WGSI
Murray, Heather, Prof., English
Newton, Melanie, Prof., History
Ng, Roxana, Professor, Adult Education & Community Development Program, OISE
Nyquist, Mary, Prof., English
Rankin, Katharine, Prof., Geography & Director of Planning
Rao, Ajay, Prof., Historical Studies/Religion
Reilly, James, Prof. NMC
Rekabtalaei, Golbarg, NMC
Riley, Krista, Social and Equity Studies
Rockel, Stephen, Prof., Humanities/History
Rothman, Natalie, Prof., History
Safieddine, Hicham, NMC
Salih, Sara, Prof., English
Sammond, Nicholas, Prof., English and Cinema Studies
Sarabia, Rosa, Prof. Portuguese and Spanish
Schwebel, Paula, Philosophy
Shaindlinger, Noa, NMC
Slabodsky, Santiago, Centre for Study of Religion/Centre for Jewish Studies
Smith, Gavin, Prof., Anthropology
Song, Jesook, Prof., Dept. of East Asian Studies
Stevens, Paul, Prof., English
Stewart, Bianca, History
Tambe, Ashwini, Prof., WGSI
Tavakoli-Targhi, Mohamed, Prof., NMC
Trotz, Alissa, Prof., Caribbean Studies, WGSI
Valleau, John, Prof. Em., Chemistry
Walcott, Rinaldo, Prof., SESE, OISE

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