We Condemn Anti-Jewish Racism at Medical Schools and Teaching Hospitals
We the undersigned organizations and individuals, consisting of medical students, medical residents, practicing physicians, other health care providers, and supporters, condemn the recent dramatic increase in anti-Jewish racism expressed at Canadian medical schools, hospitals, and other health care training institutions. These expressions of racial hatred create an intimidating environment for learners, and lead to harassment and victimization of Jewish learners.
Jewish students and residents deserve the same protection as other marginalized people in our society. Those who state that Jews need no such protection dismiss our tragic history and ignore the fact that Jews are victimized by more hate crimes per capita than any other people in Canada. We support diversity and inclusion programs that protect the status of other minorities, but we oppose efforts of some in the intersectional movement to label Jews as “white,” as Jews form a heterogeneous group including those of Middle Eastern and African descent. Even worse are those who refer to Jews as “white supremacists” or “Jewish supremacists.” After experiencing 2000 years of frequent discrimination and persecution, more than six million Jews were murdered by white supremacists in the recent past. Far-right racists often use the terms “Zionist Supremacist” or “Jewish Supremacist.” The use of these dog whistles accelerates anti-Jewish racism in our society, as recently seen on the streets of our major cities in Canada. Anyone concerned with the safety of students must recognize the current dangers to Jewish students.
Medical schools and teaching hospitals should not tolerate faculty, residents and students who heighten these dangers to Jewish students. While we cannot prove the content of dangerous and offensive verbal abuse, we can document dangerous and offensive postings on social media. Of course, all faculty and students have freedom of speech, but do not have the right to place students at imminent risk of harm. Many students follow these faculty on social media and saw those postings. For example, we found the following Twitter and Facebook postings by Canadian medical school faculty:
• accusing Israel of “settler colonialism” even though Jews are the only indigenous people of the land of Israel who still exist today
• accusing Israel of “white supremacy” and stating Jews were accepted into “whiteness”
• publicizing the discredited “deadly exchange” theory which accuses Israel and American Jews of responsibility for police killings in the US
• retweeting a message stating that Israel “internalized the ways of the Nazis”
• retweeting a message associating Israel with genocide
• reproduction of a cartoon depicting Stephen Harper as a puppet controlled by Jews
• support for the economic boycott of Israel, designed to destroy Israel, and typical of past racist boycotts of Jews
• regarding Jewish students, “[i]f their culture is Zionism . . .they should be boycotted and sanctioned”
• Also: a lecture syllabus which included (1) links to articles advocating a boycott of Israeli health professionals, and (2) a link to a far right website advocating Holocaust denial and anti-Jewish conspiracies
Medical schools and teaching hospitals should not tolerate faculty or students who fan the flames of anti-Jewish racism. This behaviour creates a climate of intimidation and places students and residents at an increased risk of harm. We, the undersigned, will no longer accept the unchallenged spread of such hatred and we demand (1) adoption of the IHRA* definition of antisemitism (anti-Jewish hatred), (2) development and application of appropriate anti-Jewish racism and hate speech standards in codes of conduct for students, residents, and faculty at Canadian medical schools and teaching hospitals, (3) specific protection for Jewish faculty, residents, and students as a vulnerable minority group, and (4) transparency with regard to how complaints about anti-Jewish racism are dealt with by medical schools and hospitals.
6 July 2021
*International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance
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