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I found this over at blazingcatfur. Shalom Lappin, a Professor at King’s College in London, was scheduled to speak in the Colloquium of the Cognitive Science Program of the Philosophy Department at York, but he sent York’s President Shoukri a letter of withdrawal and has canceled his appearance due to Shoukri’s complete and utter lack of a response.

As an active member of the Jewish and pro-Israel community at the university, I’m pretty amazed that I didn’t hear about this directly? This story needs to get out! This Professor is taking a stand and setting the stage for more academics to do the same. It’s not only students at the school that are intimidated, it is faculty as well. A non-Jewish Professor at York has come out privately in support of the Jewish students, but he’s afraid that if he comes out publicly, he won’t be rehired. He says that faculty ”has been hi-jacked by the far-left views at York.” Is this what a University is supposed to be like?

The more the administration remains moot on these issues – letting a militant union lock out 50,000 students for 3 months and allowing Islamist mobs to intimidate its students – the more the school’s reputation is going to be destroyed, and frankly, the more U of T’s enrollment levels are going to rise.

Here’s the Professor’s letter. I really commend him for standing up in the face of the ever increasing adversity in academia. I’m sure his colleagues at home are not going to be pleased with this news:

Dear Dr. Shoukri,
(President and Vice Chancellor, York University)

I am Shalom Lappin Professor of Computational Linguistics at King’s College, London, and I am currently a visiting professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, where I am on sabbatical for the semester.

I was recently invited to give a talk on my research on computational modeling of grammar induction in the Colloquium of the Cognitive Science Program of the Philosophy Department at York, on March 25. I accepted the invitation with great pleasure. I received my BA in Philosophy from York in May 1970, and I welcomed this opportunity to return to my first academic home. It is therefore with considerable regret that I must now withdraw from this engagement in light of the York administration’s handling of the attack on Jewish students that
took place on the afternoon of February 11.

The reports of this attack that I have read in both the Canadian and the foreign press (confirmed by eyewitness accounts that I have received) converge on a disturbing sequence of events. A group of approximately 100 students supporting the York Student Federation broke up a press conference organized by other students campaigning to impeach the YSF. This group then pursued approximately 40 of the students from the press conference, most of them Jewish,
to the offices of the campus Hillel, where the latter locked themselves in for fear of physical assault. The YSF supporters banged on the door and the windows of the offices, shouting threatening comments at the students trapped inside. The students in the Hillel headquarters appealed to campus security for assistance but received none. They then called the Toronto Police, who eventually arrived to escort them out of the offices, through lines of hostile YSF supporters chanting angry slogans and hurling insults at them.

To date I have seen no public statement by any University official on this incident, beyond the expressionon of an intention to investigate it. I called your office on Monday, February 23 to seek clarification of the administration’s view of the attack. A member of your staff called me back today and graciously listened to my concerns. However, she was unable to do more than reiterate the University’s official position that the matter is still under investigation. Given that the incident took place two weeks ago, I find it odd that the administration has been unable to come to any conclusions on what took place. It is particularly remarkable that it felt no need to release at least a general statement specifying that violence and abuse of any kind will not be tolerated on campus, and confirming that all students have the right to express their views without fear of intimidation.

The fact that the University has not taken up this assault with the students who launched it, nor acted to reassure the students who they targeted indicates a severe failure on the part of the administration to fulfill its reponsibility to sustain a campus free of physical violence and harrassment. Several of the Jewish students at York claim that the assault was not an aberration, but part of a general atmosphere of extreme hostility that they have been forced to contend with over an extended period of time. I am in no position to evaluate this assertion. But it seems to me that the administration is obliged to address the grievances of students who feel that they are being victimized, particularly in light of a significant incident which lends some credence to their charge.

I do not regard the ethnic identities or the political views of any of the participants in this event as of relevant concern. All sides to a controversial question have an equal right to be heard in a civil environment of tolerance and mutual respect. Nor do I see criticism of Israel as the problem here. I have frequently spoken out publicly against the policies of the Israeli government, most recently in a joint letter and comments critical of Israel’s operation in Gaza, published in the Observer in January.

If one group of students is permitted to engage in violent harrassment of another without the decisive intervention of the University’s administration, then the conditions for a free and unfettered exchange of ideas are completely undermined, and the primary purpose of university life is betrayed.

When I was an undergraduate at York in the late 1960s the University was home to lively political activity on a variety of issues. The Israeli-Palestininan conflict was one of these, and discussion was intense, occasionally heated. However, at no time did this discussion degenerate into systematic bullying, initimidation, or expressions of bigotry. Nor would the administration of that period have allowed it to do so. It is a source of great sadness to me that the current administration is either incapable or unwilling to insure the existence of a basic culture of decency, civility, and free speech on its campus. This culture is a necessary feature of any serious institution of higher learning.

Sincerely,

Shalom Lappin
Professor of Computational Linguistics
King’s College, London

Please pass this on to anyone you know, especially if you are a student. We have to empower like-minded Professors to do the same!

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7 Responses to “UK Professor cancels talk at York University in response to administration’s failure to condemn attacks on Jewish students”

  1. Avidan Waldman says:

    “letting a militant union lock out 50,000 students for 3 months and allowing Islamist mobs to intimidate its students”

    I am a strong supporter of Israel and a strong supporter of the Jewish students that were harassed and intimidated at York but I am appalled to see this language, “letting a militant union lock out 50,000 students for 3 months and allowing Islamist mobs to intimidate its students.” It is not a militant union and the lock out had nothing to do with the Middle East conflict. The mob that embarrassingly harassed the Jewish students in the Hillel offices were not “islamists”. What does that even mean? Many were not even Muslim. Islamists is a nothing word that only promotes more hate.
    If you want people to pass on your message you should be careful with your words and tell the truth. By misrepresenting the facts you have no right to complain when the other side inevitably misrepresents the facts.
    Professor Shalom Lappin’s letter is meaningful and would be more affective without the commentary before hand.

    Avidan Waldman

  2. mikecg says:

    I’m sorry that you disagree with my language but I stand by it. I am not misrepresenting the facts, I’m just not afraid to call a spade a spade.
    You don’t have to be a Muslim, or even a terrorist, to be islamist – it is an ideology that many on the extreme left are aiding and abetting, even if they are not consciously aware of it. And as far as CUPE being a militant union, their actions speak for themselves.

    Mike

  3. Kim says:

    I am a resident of Ontario Canada and not far from UofT and York University and a Canadian taxpayer that supports our system of education and I find this activity extremely deplorable. What gives these students the right to carry out this violence on our campus’ is beyond me. Where was the faculty security? Perhaps they were afraid of being mobbed themselves.
    If they are atheists then they should at least value the “human self” and if they are Muslims and or Christians then they should understand that “judgement is in Gods hands only”…”not the individual” and especially “not mob rule”. Shame, shame! They do ot represent the educated elite that they are supposed to be the light of the world. They represent the dictates of illiterate Muhammadan “Hamas”, or a “Hezbola” examples.

  4. Kim says:

    Please note: in the preceding comment “I did not say they were Muslims”. All I stated was they act like a “Hamas” or “Hezbollah” mob. They could be “neo-Nazis” for all I care. What I am trying to say is this; I refuse to financially support this kind of behaviour in our educational system.

  5. Gerovital says:

    The fact that the University has not taken up this assault with the students who launched it, nor acted to reassure the students who they targeted indicates a severe failure on the part of the administration to fulfill its reponsibility to sustain a campus free of physical violence and harrassment.

  6. Buy Home says:

    The students in the Hillel headquarters appealed to campus security for assistance but received none. They then called the Toronto Police, who eventually arrived to escort them out of the offices, through lines of hostile YSF supporters chanting angry slogans and hurling insults at them.

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