Over 60 U of T faculty backing anti-Israel encampment after disciplinary threat from administration

Student protesters have called on universities to disclose their finances, pressuring the universities to cut financial ties with Israeli companies, learning institutions or military.

Over 60 U of T faculty backing anti-Israel encampment after disciplinary threat from administration
The Canadian Press / Christopher Katsarov
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Over 60 faculty members from the University of Toronto have decided to participate in the anti-Israel protest on the institution's campus.

The administration's threat to discipline staff participating in the anti-Israel demonstration inspired some to join the protest, some said.

Faculty members vowed to stay on the encampment, which has been in place since May 2, even if the university asked police to clear it.

The encampment is one of many protests that have popped up across North America in the last two months.

Student protesters have called on universities to disclose their finances, pressuring the universities to cut financial ties with Israeli companies, learning institutions or military.

The University of Toronto has filed a notice of motion in the Ontario Supreme Court as a step to clear the encampment.

A court conference was held via Zoom on Tuesday, kicking off planning for the hearing.

Over 20 parties are seeking intervenor status, including Jewish and Muslim organizations, civil liberties advocates, and human rights groups, reports The Globe and Mail.

Deb Cowen, a professor of geography and member of the Jewish Faculty Network, told the Globe that around 200 faculty have attended the encampment.

"We are here because we care deeply about our students and because we care deeply about what we are meant to do here in this institution of higher learning," she said.

"If you decide to move against students, you'll have to go through us first."

Another faculty member said he was shocked by the university's "egregious" threat to faculty.

"The idea that a university would call the police on its own students, staff and faculty to remove them from campus is unthinkable," Prof. Steve Eastbrook argued. "So I and many other chairs and directors have written to the president expressing our outrage at these extreme measures and over the lack of consultation that led up to them."

The University of Toronto has pointed out that the number of faculty protesting is a tiny fraction of the institution's 16,000 faculty.

University president Meric Gertler said U of T has no plan to bend to the will of the mob, stating:

The University will not terminate any partnerships with Israeli universities or attempt to curtail scholars’ academic freedom in any way. The University rejects calls for cutting ties with international partner institutions or engaging in academic boycotts because these actions would be at odds with our commitment to academic freedom, the unfettered global circulation of people and ideas, and advancing understanding by fostering collaboration and dialogue.

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