An Open Letter to the Peel Catholic School Board from Jewish Canadians in Support of Nadia Shoufani

September 2, 2016

We, the undersigned, Jewish Canadians, are writing in support of Nadia Shoufani, a teacher in the Peel Catholic School Board who has recently been suspended pending an investigation by the Ontario College of Teachers.

Ms. Shoufani’es suspension was instigated by complaints from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), B’nai Brith, and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center regarding Ms. Shoufani’s active voice in support of Palestinian rights.

It is dangerous for political criticism to be equated with hate speech. Many of us, as Jews, are critical of Israel; some are not. All of us cherish the freedom we have to express ourselves. Ms. Shoufani’s personal and political expressions of solidarity with Palestine, the public forums in which they have been expressed, and the continued public discourses on these issues, are all legitimate and necessary in a healthy democracy.

Freedom of speech is fundamental to civil society and to healthy democratic exchanges. Most recently the dictatorial attacks on the freedom of speech of academics, judges, journalists and activists in Turkey have deeply disturbed us. We are concerned that Canada is starting on this very same road, at least in relation to those in solidarity with Palestinian rights. If we do not protect our basic rights, especially the right to speak about an unpopular subject, our very democracy is at risk.

Does Ms. Shoufani not have the right to express herself in public? That the school board would respond to partisan pressures on a particular controversial issue by suspending her and subjecting her to investigation is completely unacceptable.

Judy Rebick, Writer, Toronto
Kathy Wazana, Filmmaker, Toronto
b.h. Yael, Filmmaker/Professor, OCAD University, Toronto
Richard Wazana, Lawyer, Toronto
Rachel Zolf, Writer, Philadelphia ex–Toronto
Dorit Naaman, Alliance Atlantis Professor of Film and Media, Queen’s University
Lucia Pizarro, Rabbinical Student, Hamilton
Dr. Miriam Garfinkle, retired physician, Toronto
Helga Mankovitz, Retired Computer Programmer, Kingston
Alisa Gayle–Deutsch, Musician, Toronto
Susan Reisler, Public Relations Consultant, Toronto
Sharry Aiken, Faculty of Law, Queen’s University, Kingston
Sue Goldstein, Artist and Writer, Toronto
Martin Lukacs, Writer, Montreal
Anita Block, Social Worker, Toronto
Lauren Satok, Visual Artist, Toronto
Jason Kunin, Teacher, TDSB, Toronto
Amit Breuer, Producer, Toronto
Dr. Anna Zalik, Professor, York University, Toronto
Ben Saifer, Teacher, Toronto
Diana Ralph, MSW, Ph.D, Associate Professor (retired), Carleton University
Gary Shaul, Toronto
Sid Frankel, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba
Sheila Delany, Emerita, SFU, Vancouver
David Copelin, Playwright, Grants Pass, Oregon ex–Toronto
Judy Goldschmidt, Retired, Courtenay, BC
Marty Roth, Emeritus Professor of English, University of Minnesota, Vancouver
Alan Rutkowski, Retired, Victoria, BC
Sam Blatt, P. Eng, Toronto
Maxine Kaufman–Lacusta, Author, Medical Clerical Worker, Burnaby, BC
Natalie Zemon Davis, Historian, Professor, Toronto
Adam Saifer, Student (PhD Candidate), Kingston
Debbie Ryce, Customer Service Rep, Vancouver
Herb Gamberg, Retired, Halifax
Alvin Rebick – Non–profit Senior Manager, FoodShare, Toronto
Martha Roth, Writer/Editor, Vancouver
David Weller, Retired teacher, Winnipeg
Stephen Aberle, Actor, Vancouver, BC
Dr. Ellen Levine, child psychotherapist and expressive arts therapist, Toronto
Zach Ruiter, journalist, Toronto
Deborah Yaffe, Retired Professor, Victoria, BC
Stephen K. Levine, Professor Emeritus, York University, Toronto
Sandra Ruch, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, Toronto
Marina Kun, Manufacturer, Ottawa
Alan Sears, Professor, Sociology, Ryerson University, Toronto
Sandra Bender, Retired Teacher, Ottawa
Richard Deaton, Ph.D., LL.B., Stanley Bridge, PEI
Prof. Adrian Fine MD, Victoria, B.C.
Dr. Edwin E. Daniel, Victoria, B.C.
Reuben Roth, Ph.D., Laurentian University, Sudbury
Marion Pollack, Vancouver, B.C.
Alexis Mitchell, Artist, Toronto
Freda Knott, Retired Teacher, Victoria, BC
Cheryl Gaster, Human Rights Lawyer, Mediator & Trainer, Toronto
Orev Reena Katz, Artist, Toronto
Don Schmidt, Teacher, Toronto Catholic District School Board
Jake Javanshir, Home Inspector, North York, Ontario
Greta Jones, Retired, Victoria, B.C.
Greg Starr, College Instructor, Port Moody, BC
Ben Sichel, Public school teacher, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Suzanne Weiss, Holocaust survivor, Toronto
Eleanor Grant, Retired, Waterloo, Ont.
Yom Shamash, BCTF retired teacher, Vancouver
Gordon Doctorow, M.Math, Ed.D., Adjunct Faculty, Nova Southeastern University
Andrew Lugg, Professor Emeritus, University of Ottawa
John Macdonald, Ottawa
Ken Battah, Retired, Joliette, Québec
Amy Gottlieb, Teacher TDSB, Toronto
Deborah Heller, Assoc. Prof. Humanities Emerita, York University, Toronto
Ruth Gamberg, Retired Professor, Halifax, NS
Susan Bender, Toronto, Canada
Naomi Binder Wall, Teacher, Toronto
Robin Pacific, Visual Artist, Toronto
Richard Marcuse, Social Anthropologist/Arts Consultant, Vancouver, BC
David Mandelzys, Teacher, Toronto
David Rapaport, retired, Toronto
Elle Flanders, PhD Artist/Adjunct Faculty, Ryerson University, Toronto
Rima Berns–McGown, Lecturer, University of Toronto at Mississauga, Toronto
Larry Wartels, Urban Planner, Victoria BC
Cathy Gulkin, Filmmaker, Toronto
Vera Frenkel, Artist, Toronto
Nina Levitt, Associate Professor, York University
Jody Berland, Professor, York University,Toronto
Noam Gonick, Filmmaker/Artist/Director, Toronto
Max Silverman, Lawyer, Montréal
Rebecca Comay, Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto
Aaron Davis, Musician, Toronto
Yakov Rabkin, Professor of History, Université de Montréal
Lia Tarachansky, Israeli Journalist/Filmmaker, Toronto
Corey Balsam, NGO worker, Montréal
Kate Lushington, Theatre Artist/Teacher, Toronto
Lesley Wicks, Retired Lawyer, Victoria, BC
Niko Block, Student, Toronto
Rebekah Hart, Therapist, Montreal
Eva Sharell Retired Librarian, Vancouver, BC
Judy Deutsch, Psychoanalyst/Columnist at Canadian Dimension Magazine, Toronto
Leo Panitch, Professor Emeritus, York University, Toronto
Daphne Winland, PhD, Associate Professor, York University, Toronto
Sophie Afriat, Freelancer, Toronto
Devorah Miller, Creative Director, Toronto