Friday, February 22

Letter to President George regarding Censorship at McMaster University

Dear President George,

I must say I am deeply disappointed in
McMaster's actions regarding "Israeli Apartheid Week".
Where, if not at a University must students be
permitted to explore the urgent issues of our
day - freely and honestly?

Disallowing the "placement" of an "inflammatory"
banner using the banned words "Israeli apartheid"
is disingenuous. Diplomacy aside, what is really
happening here is that supporters of Israeli Apartheid
at McMaster are trying to prevent members of the
University community from learning the truth about
the on-going everyday oppression and brutalization of
the Palestinian people. I could point out legal opinions
and charter issues relating to this debacle and
confirmations from Nelson Mandella and
Desmond Tutu regarding Israeli Apartheid
but others have already done that. We are
very aware of your involvement with the racist
illegal organization the Jewish National Fund ,

and so your actions are not unexpected.
I'm not going to try to convince you of the validity of
McMaster students' concerns. You've already
"chosen sides". What I am going to do is to remind
you of the students' charter rights for freedom of
assembly and freedom of expression and of the
fundamental need for academic freedom in Canada.
As President of McMaster University it is your
responsibility to uphold these rights.

Mrs. Busch-Vishniac, please don't send me another
form letter. I have taken the time to raise
specific concerns, please respond to my specific
concerns. It is sadly hypocritical that on your
McMaster webpage you state, "as the Provost and
Vice-President [Academic] I was attracted to
McMaster for three reasons [ being] although
I have spent my entire life until now as a resident
of the U.S.A., I am discouraged by the recent
restrictions of academic freedom in the U.S..
By contrast, Canadian universities including
McMaster, remain true to the concepts of intellectual
integrity and academic freedom." . I ask you in your
capacity as McMaster Provost to explore your own
unspoken personal biases and to set them aside to
reclaim these principles of intellectual integrity
and academic freedom.

I would like to know, if the students invited
President Jimmy Carter to speak at McMaster
would you ban him too? Have you removed his book,
"Peace Not Apartheid" from the McMaster
bookstore and library?

The oppression of McMaster students in this case
has seriously affected my and others' long held
respect for McMaster University.

In order to rectify this injustice I strongly
recommend that McMaster host a forum to
debate academic freedom at McMaster.

I look forward to your reply.

Susan Howard-Azzeh
Chair, Niagara Palestinian Association
Moderator, Niagara Coalitioin for Peace

1919 majority decision written by Oliver
Wendell Holmes, Jr: there must be
"clear and present danger" such as "falsely
shouting fire in a crowded theatre and causing
a panic" in order to limit freedom of speech.

1969 case (Brandenburg v. Ohio) the phrase
"imminent lawless action" became the touchstone
regarding limitations to free speech in the USA.

Ralph Nader's dad to Ralph when he was 10 years old:
"So what did you learn in school today?
To believe or to think?"

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