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Synopsis

During 2008-2009, Israel lobby organizations made concerted efforts to block a planned conference on statehood for Israel and Palestine at Toronto's York University. This book is a report of an independent investigation by author Jon Thompson for the Canadian Association of University Teachers, an organization that has been active in the defence of free speech and academic freedoms which have been challenged on Canadian campuses.

Controversy began at York soon after the Israel-Palestine conference was advertised, and intensified over the following months. The event was repeatedly denounced, and university administrators were deluged by irate e-mails and phone calls. York, as the host university, was warned of boycotts and the cessation of donations and was denounced in fullpage newspaper ads. When York and its co-sponsors stood their ground, the Israel lobby persuaded the Harper government to contact SSHRC, an academic funding agency also involved with the event. In response, SSHRC made an unprecedented intervention. The Canadian Association of University Teachers then made a public issue of the government's interference and, in the end, the conference was held as planned.

This book establishes the facts of the case, provides a context for understanding it, and explores the meaning of academic freedom in Canada. Author Jon Thompson proposes measures which universities and university faculty members can take to better safeguard their ability to discuss and debate ideas which some may wish to silence.

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