B’nai B’rith Smear Doesn’t Change Facts about University Funding

At Carleton there is an Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, David J. Azrieli Pavilion and Azrieli Theatre named after the Israeli-Canadian real estate magnate who gave the university millions of dollars. One of the richest Canadians prior to his death, David Azrieli served in the paramilitary Haganah group during the 1948 war. His unit was responsible for the Battle of Jerusalem, including forcibly displacing 10,000 Palestinians. A real estate developer in Israel, Azrieli made a controversial donation in 2011 to Im Tirtzu, a hardline Israeli-nationalist organization (deemed a “fascist” group by an Israeli court).
The Azrieli family put up $1 million to establish a Jewish Studies program at Concordia. An orchestrator of opposition to Palestinian solidarity activism at the Montreal university through the 2000s, Concordia Jewish studies professor Norma Joseph was also “instrumental” in setting up the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies. In 2011 Azrieli gave Concordia $5 million to establish the first minor in Israel Studies at a Canadian university. After attending an Association for Israel Studies’ conference organized by the Azrieli Institute, prominent anti-Palestinian activist Gerald Steinberg described the institute as part of a “counterattack” against pro-Palestinian activism at Concordia.
The Israeli nationalist tilt of McGill’s Jewish studies is actually inscribed in a major funding agreement. In 2012 the estate of Simon and Ethel Flegg contributed $1 million to McGill’s Jewish Studies department partly for an “education initiative in conjunction with McGill Hillel.” But Hillel refuses to associate with Jews (or others) who “delegitimize, demonize, or apply a double standard to Israel; support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the state of Israel.”
The University of Toronto’s Jewish studies was financed by the Tanenbaums. One of the wealthy donors that replaced the Canadian Jewish Congress with the even more staunchly anti-Palestinian Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Larry Tanenbaum and his brother have given the University of Toronto at least $10 million and helped raise $10 million more for the university’s Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies and other initiatives. Last summer the University of Toronto law school rescinded a job offer to Valentina Azarova to head its International Human Rights Program after pressure from David Spiro, a former co-chair of CIJA Toronto and nephew of Larry Tanenbaum. Spiro was hostile towards Azarova because of her defence of Palestinian rights.
The Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies has close ties with the University of Toronto’s Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair in Israeli Studies. Alongside funding for the Anne Tanenbaum Centre, the famously Zionist Bronfman family provided $1.5 million to create the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair in Israeli Studies.
The Bronfman Chair in Israeli Studies is now part of the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, which was set up in 2010 with $35 million from Barrick Gold founder Peter In 1999 the Canadian Jewish News reported on a sizable donation Munk made to Israel’s Technion university and a speech in which he “suggested that Israel’s survival is dependent on maintaining its technological superiority over the Arabs.”
In 2019, power couple Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman donated $100 million to the University of Toronto in the institution’s largest ever donation. Schwartz and Reisman created the Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which provides millions of dollars annually for non-Israelis who fight in that country’s armed forces.
Supporter of Israel Seymour Schulich is almost certainly the leading private donor to universities across the country. The mining magnate claims to have donated more than a quarter billion dollars to universities, including a $20 million gift to Israel’s Technion. There is a Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie, Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario, Schulich School of Business at York as well as the Schulich Library of Science and Engineering and Schulich School of Music at McGill.

The post B’nai B’rith Smear Doesn’t Change Facts about University Funding first appeared on Dissident Voice.

2021-03-12 | Canada, Israel/Palestine, Racism | English |