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Monday, June 13, 2011

Anti-Semitism and a Classroom 'Jew Count' at University of Toronto's Social Work Faculty

Picture the following: A discussion in a post-graduate university class on the topic of Jews turns ugly. The professor is uncritical when one student says he doesn’t want to be around Jews. Another student complains about “rich Jews,” implying their excessive power.  In a subsequent class, the same professor, as if to validate those points, says half her department faculty are Jews and with her approbation, students conduct a ‘Jew count’. 

While this sounds like an episode in Germany leading up to the anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws, it occurred more recently and much closer to home, at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Social Work. Now, more details are emerging under the exceptional circumstance of two U of T professors publicly criticizing a colleague for facilitating classroom anti-Semitism and the university administration’s inadequate response.

The controversy began when some visible minority students in a Social Work Master’s program at the University of Toronto expressed discomfort about being around “rich Jews,” in Professor Rupaleem Bhuyan’s class, regarding a proposed outing in 2009 to the Baycrest Centre, an internationally renowned Jewish geriatric and research facility.  They were undoubtedly confident of a sympathetic ear from her. The previous year, Bhuyan denounced Israel as a satellite of the United States, unworthy of distinction as a separate country.

The few Jewish students in Bhuyan’s Master's Program class were intimidated into silence for much of the discussion by a classroom culture slanted against them. Finally, one young woman spoke up, protesting her grandparents had come to Canada with virtually nothing and she was proud her family could now afford the fees for them to reside at Baycrest.

That must have rung an alarm bell for Professor Bhuyan, because startlingly, she then admonished her students not to divulge what transpired in class to outsiders.

But her classroom was not Las Vegas and what happened there did not stay there.  Some outraged Jewish students approached Professor Paula David, who in turn consulted senior professors Ernie Lightman and Adrienne Chambon.

“Students are in a vulnerable position and dread officially attaching their name to complaints against a professor in a program like Social Work” said Lightman. “Aside from determining grades, they fear one bad word from a professor to a social agency can eliminate their employment prospects.”

In the face of such circumstances, Lightman assumed the voice of the Jewish students who endured the vitriol in Bhuyan’s class.  He, with Chambon spoke to Faye Mishna, the Dean of Social Work about the incidents.  A letter Lightman wrote to U of T President David Naylor about the matter also became public. 

By way of response, Mishna, without specific reference to the incident or Bhuyan, sent out a pair of letters to the Social Work department generically condemning anti-Semitism. 

Lightman believes the university’s response was absurd.  “The department’s approach seemed to imply a widespread problem with anti-Semitism– which there wasn’t – and that everyone is potentially a racist when one professor promoted anti-Semitism and was never held publicly accountable.” 

The Canadian Jewish Congress declined to participate in resulting seminars on anti-Semitism held for the Social Work Department.  According to the CJC’s Bernie Farber, “We were not satisfied in the end with the entire process.” 

Chambon, a Jewish professor who is Director of PhD programs in the Social Work department, was particularly pained by these events. Originally from France, she relates that “I am from Europe and of a generation with bad memories of the sinister results of Jew counts.”  After hearing about the incident, Chambon arranged to meet with Bhuyan. 

“I was flabbergasted” Chambon disclosed. “She told me ‘racialized’ students come from underprivileged backgrounds and were justified in not wanting to be around old Jews because they are rich and would make them uneasy.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  I took some paper and wrote down what she said in front of her.  Bhuyan then said the donor plaques at the university were all from rich Jews, which she felt proved her point. Aside from being factually wrong, it reflects an attitude that polarizes groups and reinforces stereotypes that do not belong in the teaching of Social Work.” 

Professor Bhuyan did not reply to a request to comment for this article and the University refused to add to Social Work Department Dean Mishna’s response that, “the Faculty took all steps to address the matter appropriately at the time of the incident and thereafter.”

Nothing could be more false in the opinion of Lightman, Chambon and others. While patiently waiting for the wheels of justice to grind slowly, they instead saw them go off the rails. 

Bhuyan, an untenured Assistant Professor, who never offered a public apology for her behaviour, was rewarded by the University with a contract renewal . 

That development has frustrated a number of professors in a dysfunctional Social Work Department that remains divided in opposing camps.  Lightman insists this matter must be exposed and wrote a recent article about it for The Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.

Lightman asserts, “It’s ironic that a department purporting to teach anti-racism is incapable of dealing with racism in its own house. We have a responsibility to students to ensure faculty do not abuse the power inherent in their positions, and to the community-at-large to ensure all the Social Workers it graduates reflect and promote the values of the field. That hasn’t happened here."

UPDATE: Ontario's Minister for Colleges and Universities is John Miloy. The Progressive Conservative Critic for that portfolio is Jim Wilson. Why not let them know what you think? 

UPDATE 2: An attempt to intimidate bloggers?

UPDATE 3: Why is it no surprise that someone with Bhuyan's prejudices would be attracted to radical left groups like No One Is Illegal and a teach-in at OISE?  


Jay Currie said...

Why am I not surprised?

For religious and political reasons, for particular groups, anti-semitism is as natural as breathing. Now those groups - happy to be protected as vismins - are beginning to flex their muscle.

The rot is beginning in Canada as the result of our insane immigration policies. The question is whether we will be able to take a stand in time.

I think we will. But it is a close run thing.

Leon Kushner said...

Neither am I surprised. After rewarding Janet Peto's anti-Semitic thesis, U of T continues to prove that anti-Semitism is wrong unless it's taught at the graduate level by 'educated' professors. Thankfully there are still a few Jewish profs and other who are willing to take the heat and stand up against all forms of racism, like Lightman and Chambon. Kudos to them and the students who finally spoke up.

Mark said...

Some "visible minority students," eh? LOL. I wager $1000 that they were "North African."

Howard Rotberg said...

I returned both of my degrees (B.A. History, 1973, and LL.B, Law, 1976) in disgust to U of T, because I was ashamed to have them on my wall. This was because President Naylor tried to justify the hosting of Israel Apartheid Week - U of T was the first university in the world to host it, and now it has spread to about 55 - by the silly arguments of respect for diversity and freedom of expression. I told him it was a matter of academic STANDARDS and they would never host a conference claiming that all professors are fascists, so why host a conference which is similarly without the minimum standards of academic truth. He ignored me, so I returned my degrees. These things start to snowball. Every time the antiSemites get away with one thing, it is that much easier for them to take it to the next level.
Howard Rotberg

truepeers said...

"I couldn’t believe my ears"

-Reminds one, "how could civilized Germans..."
How could Jewish professors, after years of building Jew hate on campus, not have seen this coming? Such blindness suggests rich Jews should find better institutions to support.

Anonymous said...

This isn't the only place this is happening - the public school boards, and to a lesser degree the separate boards, of the Greater Toronto area in Ontario have institutionalized anti-semitic teachings through their policies of inclusion.

Anonymous said...

This is unacceptable. It reinforces that there is important work to be done on the campuses to combat every form of religious or ethnic bigotry. - Mark Persaud

Anonymous said...

Who is on the hiring committe at the Social Work Faculty? That is the question as well.

Anonymous said...

Half the department are Jews, eh Bhuyan? Well, not surprising given the fact that Jews have long been involved in movements for social justice and social change. What really struck me is the blatent hatred here so easily evident in the irony of this position--on the one hand Bhuyan and company are saying they don't like "rich jews," yet nor do they approve of "too many" jews becoming social workers or being professors of social work. So rich jews are bad and jews working for social justice are bad too. Hmmm, you can't have your cake and eat it too Bhuyan. It's hate pure and simple.

The Contentious Centrist said...

"After rewarding Janet Peto's anti-Semitic thesis, U of T continues to prove that anti-Semitism is wrong unless it's taught at the graduate level by 'educated' professors."


I checked out this thesis and stopped reading after a minute, having encountered this first hard fact provided by her:

".. mentioned Baruch Goldstein – the Jewish settler who, in February 1994, had massacred over 50 Palestinians while they were praying at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron."

According to wikipedia:

"Goldstein was an American-born Jewish Israeli physician who perpetrated the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in the city of Hebron, killing 29 Muslims at prayer there and wounding another 150."

The very first piece of easily accessible and verifiable information she mentions in her thesis is an exaggeration and a lie.

Why claim Goldstein killed more than 50 when he killed 29? Isn't 29 a large enough quantity of dead bodies to be outraged about? Why the need to lie, then?

What kind of a cause for justice is it that it requires lies to maintain its pathos?

And this fast and loose playing with facts seems to be an acceptable academic form in this university:

"Bhuyan then said the donor plaques at the university were all from rich Jews, which she felt proved her point. Aside from being factually wrong, "

Why "Aside from being factually wrong", as if this were some neglibible aspect of academic education? Where will academic institutions be when facts are no longer facts but guesses, rumours, lies and intuitions in the service of the favoured agenda of individual faculty members?

Anonymous said...

If its OK to have jew counts its long past the time when we should have started muslim counts. And what about rich Christians. Maybe we better have rich Christian counts. And what about rich atheists. Maybe we should have counts for them too. Why have the jews been singled out. This professor should defrocked, publicity excoriated and fired by the Trustees of U of T

Anonymous said...

Look guys... what happened is bad, but the problem is that now Jewish people are showing off in every public setting they appear whether it's media, politics, education,..., and you always get the impression they are continuously victimized and at the same time they are the smartest and most entitled of all peoples. So I don't see any bit of self-critique and reflection from them, it's like they don't care about what other people are or think.
Look for comparison at the Japanese people, they are revered all over the planet, although they were badly defeated and lost a lot in the WW2. They just came back onto the world stage and become much better without any fanfare and without any complaining. Can you say the same about Israelis? People are even confused now when they think "Jewish": maybe first it's compassion for the fact that 6 million were killed in WW2, but on the other hand it's the 40 years of Jewish oppression in Middle East... Can you affirm your identity without being in everyone's face all around the clock and all around the world? I'm telling you: the guys you're against are multiplying way faster than you. And those numbers will really count in a social confrontation (you'll wish that Jew count be bigger then - bad joke). Please try and make peace with them before it's too late.

Anonymous said...

This is the reason why I, a former NDP voter have voted for Harper in the last two elections. There is too much anti-Semitism in the world and in Canada. Some of it is disguised as anti-Israel talk and some like this example is not.
That is why I will continue to vote for Harper. He is the only leader in Canada willing to stand against anti-semitism. I'm not saying people who criticize Israel are all anti-semities but it's moving that way.

Anonymous said...

The comments that "the problem is that now Jewish people are showing off in every public setting..." is blatant anti-Semitism. Hello? If you singled out any other group (especially Muslims) and said the same things you'd be called a racist. Why is anti-Semitism always excused?

Anonymous said...

I am appalled by this! My father, Prof. Ben Lappin, was a prominent member of the U of T school of Social Work. He got his degree from there and went on to be a much loved teacher and staff member of the dept. He LOVED it there. After years of teaching at U of T my father took the family to live in Israel but kept up very warm ties with U of T and especially the dept of social work. He spent a sabatical year there and was in close contact with many of the teachers. I'm ashamed that anti semitism has become a part of this school! My dad would be so sad and shocked but he's not alive to suffer this indignity!

Anonymous said...

Fire the Prof. No other way. Failure to do so implies endorsement. Shame on you U of T. You won't see another penny of my money. I hope I never meet the Prof herself. I'll spit in her face.

Anonymous said...

I'm now studying at UofT's Social Work Program and, while I haven't encountered any anti-semitism - in fact, this particular issue was dealt with quite well at the beginning of the year - the rest of the program is rotten to the core. Good professors are let go because they are white, middle class and straight, while mediocre gay PhD students of colour are hired in their place to show the world the Social Work program's commitment to DIVERSITY. As a result, the program stinks.

Radical practitioner in a main-stream gig said...

I studied here. This school does not *really* purport to teach anti-racism. In fact, the opposite. Faculty who hold anti-oppression/anti-racist values have felt marginalized by their own administration (based on my dialogue with them). Students have been told 'issues of cultural and difference will not be taught [in this child and family development class]. if you want to talk about that, take a diversity and social justice course'. Appalling. UofT offers 4 streams of social work study. Unless you are focused in social justice and diversity studies these issues are swept aside -- and even with this stream it's a struggle to have meaningful conversation about issues that are deeply personal and hugely political.

Jill Maloney said...

Antisemitism justified in the name of 'class consciousnesses', or disguised as legitimate political critique - is everywhere.
It's probably because I'm critical of Israeli policy and pro-Palestinian that many 'enlightened' antisemites assume that I'll be on side...
I've heard a lot. I've been called a racist for speaking out against antisemitism (when the anti-Semite happened to be Black).
If you believe Jewish people invite antisemitism (for whatever reason) you are a racist. Period. Own it. Now let's have an honest conversation about what's going on.
The prof here should be fired. Excusing and supporting antisemitism on the basis that her students have been 'racialized' and are underprivileged?? This woman is a fool who clearly understands NOTHING about 'race', class and privilege.
If using stereotypes and 'observational' evidence ('donor plaques were all from rich Jews') is legitimate justification for avoiding elderly Jews... why bother trying to educate her 'racialized' students at all? Using the same reasoning we can deduce that they're lazy, violent, and culturally prone to poverty anyway...
Apparently rich 'Jews' are culturally, politically, biologically(?) worse than rich 'people' - otherwise why make the distinction?

Joe Q. said...

Anonymous on June 15, 2011 9:38 PM wrote: "Look for comparison at the Japanese people, they are revered all over the planet, although they were badly defeated and lost a lot in the WW2."

The rest of your comment was disturbing, but I actually chuckled out loud at this. Here's a suggestion: go to China and Korea and ask them what they think of the Japanese. "All over the planet" means more than just North America.

Anonymous said...

Even if the donors had been all or mostly Jewish ... isn't that a GOOD thing? The professor is somehow ANGRY because the donors to her faculty are, in her estimation, jews??? Would she rather jewish canadians not share their success with sociology faculties? Fine!

David said...

Mark: Some "visible minority students," eh? LOL. I wager $1000 that they were "North African."

Wonderful - protesting bigotry and racism with... bigotry and racism. Are you an idiot?

J.D. said...

Don't trust any person or institution dedicated to worshipping "equity" instead of plain truth or common sense.

Actually, I speak at greater length about a similar topic on my website...article to be published imminently!

Anonymous said...

What is as alarming as this incident at the school is the tone of exceptionalism expressed in so many of the comments on this board. In their haste to fight anti-semitism (which clearly needs to be fought) they resort to racist and xenophobic rhetoric. As a reformed Irish Catholic I can only say "oy vey"...

Anonymous said...

So the prof's reasoning is that "racialized" students will feel uneasy around rich Jews at Baycrest. That is fascinating,if only because a good number of those rich Jews were themselves "racialized" in Europe and did not land in this country as rich.

Anonymous said...

I just graduated from U of T's Scarborough campus (UTSC), and I've witnessed what may be even worse. Every year, the campus holds an Islam awareness week. They don't hold an awareness week (or even day) for any other religion. Not Christianity, not Judaism, not Hinduism, not Buddhism or anything else. Only Islam. An institution of such level should not show such favouritism. I found that week to be offensive towards students of all other religions. It was held in a large open area connecting three buildings known as the Meeting Place. It is a main passage-way for students. People running the even were literally shoving their material about Islam in the faces of passing students.

However, that was not even nearly the most offensive thing about that week. One day, I was on my way to class passing through there and I witnessed something absolutely despicable. They had a guest speaker come in, and he was standing on a stage talking. Students were sitting on specially placed mats on the floor. However the seating arrangement was appalling. Men set at the front. Behind them, there was a tall barrier, behind which the women sat, in such a way that they couldn't even see the stage or the speaker. So not only was the campus selectively promoting one religion, but they were also openly promoting sexism and discrimination against women. I was so shocked; I almost turned around to walk around the long way to class. I should have filed a complaint, but I was too busy with classes. Perhaps it's still not too late.

Anonymous said...

Rhetorical question: Don't you Canadians have special hate crime laws and special tribunals to try people who promote hate?

Oh I forgot - those only apply when Muslims claim to be the victims.

Anonymous said...

Tough shit if these underprivileged "students" are UNEASY..maybe THEY make Jews uneasy..More Jewish students should have spoken up. The professor should be canned. Jews should NEVER EVER be ashamed of their success and intelligence and talent. Maybe the "underprivileged" should strive to be successful themselves and then they won't be so ENVIOUS - the root of evil.

Anonymous said...

So, Jews are SHOWING OFF? are you kidding me? Jews are supposed to be ashamed of their talents and success? NO WAY! I bet those "underprivileged" students were muslim and or black. They are JEALOUS. I think Jews should stop using their money to donate to these schools.

So tell me, do other groups beside Jews "show off?" I say YES. If you've got it, flaunt it..

ENVY is the root of all evil...and guess what? Jews were at one time the poor who came to North America..but Jews didn't whine..they made something of themselves. JEALOUS JEALOUS JEALOUS..and at one time, before affirmative action, Jews had even more professorial jobs, until everyone said: "Oh, we can't have THAT, we have to give INCOMPETENT minorities the jobs. Well, guess what? Jews are the REAL minority.


Anonymous said...

To speak as a " 'racialized' student coming from an underprivileged background", I do not feel the slightest bit of uneasiness being around "old Jews because they are rich". Although, I would feel uneasy being around people that generalize and stereotype.

Anonymous said...

What sort of Social Work are they teaching? As a (Jewish)practitioner of 40 years, we were taught race, colour, creed were irrelevant, Social Justice was what we worked for, in prisons, mental hospitals, with the homeless.What the hell is going on? What sort of Social Work are these people going to practice? What an absolute disgrace! I'm contacting my peak body to alert them of this and to ensure we don't employ any of these people in our country.

Anonymous said...

Really? I mean, I can overlook the attitude as her just being an asshole or something but to make a factually wrong statement like it's true?

What is this? University or USA elections?

Anonymous said...

"Rich Jews" in question should withdraw all further funds. That should solve the problem because in the end the side with the money generally wins. It is an unfortunate course of action, but nevertheless it works.

Anonymous said...

Yes, jews are showing off and muslims are showing off too. But in different ways. Their powers will collide in the future. Unless the chinese will kick everybody's bottoms in the mean time. As for the white man, he will degenerate more and more by drugs, alcohol and vices. It's just sad, man...
About the problem here. You're all using the word antisemitism. Why aren't you using the word racism instead? Your problem is that you see only Jews are offended, not any race. You should defend any race in this conflict, not only the Jews. Why? Because the offenders here likely will offend any other race different than theirs if they get a chance.
But how can you be impartial? Whenever you hear someone reproaching something to the Jews as a group you call them antisemite. Like the guy here who said: "If you believe Jewish people invite antisemitism (for whatever reason) you are a racist." So, if the Jews in Toronto suddenly occupied ChinaTown of Toronto you wouldn't say that invites to antisemitism? Look man. Whenever you do something that bothers me I will complain. Feel free to consider me racist, but that shows you just like the conflict. It would be more useful to analyse and try to solve what bothers me instead of abusing your power by ignoring my complaint.

Anonymous said...

Coming from an affluent area that was about 40 percent Jewish... I have first hand knowledge of how class wars always wind their way into race/ethnic/cultural wars. One very undereducated rug rat spray painted a swastika on a temple - was caught, and his punishment besides painting the temple, was to attend the temple... to learn what a synagogue does, learn about the holocaust, learn about social injustice and why hate is dangerous. I am sure he's a changed kid.

I also remember when a group of the poorer students from the other side of "tracks" (was actually a highway that differentiated the wealthy from the working poor) started handing out pamphlets from an organization touting to be the neo nazis. It said black men wanted to get white women pregnant, hispanics were going to overrun our world with children and they do this by having 12 or 14 kids per woman and are supported by our tax dollars, Jews control all of the oil in the world (that's actually laughable as Israel doesn't have oil and all of the oil magnates are WASPS) Our principal at the time didn't do anything to stop these kids from handing out their literature, didn't suspend them, didn't even make an effort to remove it from the desks in each class. We had no other alternative than to call B'nai Brith, Anti-defamation league and the ACLU. Within 2 hours there were 2 lawyers sitting in his office. That's how you handle these types of things... call in the big guns!!

Richard Morchoe said...

Social Work is, like race and gender, merely a construct:) Close the department down. Heck, close the universities. Intellectual life is impossible in such politicized environments.

Anonymous said...

"Prof" Bhuyan, by her very presence, sullies the memory of Professor Allan Rose, z'l, one of the Fathers of the UofT School of Social Work. Born into an impoverished Jewish family he shone as the light on the scene of racial integration. In case the misguided "Prof" Bhuyan is not sure who he was I would direct her to read up on his work on behalf of poor blacks through Africville in Halifax.
In the meantime, her salary should be pro-rated and the portion contributed by Rich Jews deducted.

Steve Bronfman said...

Bhuyan is an idiot. Some of the comments here are stupid too;

"Anonymous" said "Look guys... what happened is bad, but the problem is that now Jewish people are showing off in every public setting they appear whether it's media, politics, education,...,"

What does this even mean? Do Jews go around shouting "I'm a Jew f**k you?" No. What does this even mean? Obviously our very existance offends this guy.

" and you always get the impression they are continuously victimized and at the same time they are the smartest and most entitled of all peoples."

The 2 aren't mutually exclusive.

"So I don't see any bit of self-critique and reflection from them, it's like they don't care about what other people are or think."

Aha, so basically unless we act just the way you want us to act there's a problem with our behaviour?

'Look for comparison at the Japanese people, they are revered all over the planet, although they were badly defeated and lost a lot in the WW2."

So? I don't know what your point is? The Talmud is taught in School in Korea, Jews are revered too. Does the fact that Papuans aren't revered make them bad people? You being illogical.

"They just came back onto the world stage and become much better without any fanfare and without any complaining. Can you say the same about Israelis? People are even confused now when they think "Jewish": maybe first it's compassion for the fact that 6 million were killed in WW2, but on the other hand it's the 40 years of Jewish oppression in Middle East..."

Without getting into the rights and wrongs of the conflict, no one blames all Muslims because of Terrorism, so why blame or Jews for anything?

"Can you affirm your identity without being in everyone's face all around the clock and all around the world?"

Oh, just for you, sure...

"I'm telling you: the guys you're against are multiplying way faster than you. And those numbers will really count in a social confrontation (you'll wish that Jew count be bigger then - bad joke). Please try and make peace with them before it's too late."

Sounds like a threat to me. So basically what's right and just doesn't matter its all about numbers? In other words give into blackmail?

Another post that annoyed me, by David critiquing what Mark said;

"Mark: Some "visible minority students," eh? LOL. I wager $1000 that they were "North African."

Wonderful - protesting bigotry and racism with... bigotry and racism. Are you an idiot?"

First, I think Mark means "middle-east" not just "north african" but David represents all thats wrong with the Jewish response to Islamic Anti-Semitism. All major surveys of Anti-semitism and anti-semitic acts in Europe and North America show Middle Easterners causing most of the problems against Jews. So, Mark is right. David has a problem with reality not with Mark. I would suggest you attack the anti-semites rather than Mark for his observation of them David. Also, how is a Jew observing that many Arabs hate Jews "racist" anyway? What are the racial differences between Jews and Arabs? None. The problem with left wing Jews is they think everyone thinks like they do and tolerate intolerance.

David please look at survey data eg http://pewresearch.org/

Anonymous said...

Fire Bhuyan immediately. No other way. Failure to do so implies endorsement. U of T, you should be ashamed of yourselves, to let this continue.

Anonymous said...

Hello All,

I was a student in those classes where the alleged anti-semitism occurred. This story which has been fictionalized by Prof. Lightman, who was not a witness to the original allegations, is being grossly misrepresented and propagated over the internet and is based in lies. Maybe you should do some investigative journalism and check your facts before you fictionalize quotes and content.

In the meantime you are engaged in a witch hunt and bent on destroying an innocent professor's career. Simply irresponsible and liable for a law suit.

-Factor Inwentash Graduate, MSW '10

Richard K said...

That's a fascinating comment "Factor Inwentash Graduate, MSW 10" . If indeed it is true, I would urge you to contact me at voltaire@hotmail.ca so that you can detail what you allege really happened.

I emailed Bhuyan, informing her that I was going to write about Professor Lightman's account in the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism and she failed to respond. I exchanged emails with Profesor Mishna and at no point did she dispute the substance of the incidents as relayed by Professor Lightman, nor did the University Administration.

Are you alleging that Professor Chambon was lying about her conversation with Professor Bhuyan?

Professors Lightman and Chambon have had the courage to go on the record with their accounts and no one, other than you, who so far have chosen to remain anonymous, has disputed their account. If indeed you are telling the truth, I would urge you to contact me at the email address above with your contact information so I can get the other side of the story, if there is one.

Your account of "This story which has been fictionalized by Prof. Lightman, who was not a witness to the original allegations, is being grossly misrepresented and propagated over the internet and is based in lies" is too vague and unspecific to be taken seriously of itself.

Anonymous said...

Hello Richard,

I wouldn't expect anyone to feel comfortable to come forward and address these allegations given the gross distortions of statements and facts you and others have already perpetuated.

How Prof. Lightman's original letter was given any merit at all based on his own admission of lack of evidence and information is beyond me.

Again, those cycling these outright fictionalizations should reflect on the responsibility they have to report information directly and accurately from those who were there, or retract their statements entirely.

So far, I see no evidence of that. Simply a witch hunt.

Richard K said...

WE now have 2 comments alleging that the account in the article is false but have not provided a single fact as to how it is allegedly false. Under the circumstances, I can't take that any more seriously than I would take any other anonymous comment from the Internet.

If Professor Bhuyan has been treated unfairly and if the report is inaccurate, I would be anxious to correct it, and if someone with direct knowledge of the incident(s) is wiling to go on the record, I would relate it verbatim.

What we do know for a fact:

- Professors Bhuyan and Chambon, who have gone on record, spoke directly with people involved.

- Professor Chambon spoke directly to Bhuyan and reported what was quoted in the article to me,

- Dean Faye Mishna sent out two letters denouncing anti-Semitism as a result of the events in Bhuyan's class. If these reports are "gross distortions of statements and facts," why did she do that?

So far, the two comments claiming Professor Lightman's account isn't accurate have not proved that in any way, nor have they provided anything in the way of an alternate account.

Which, compared to two highly credible professors and the absence of a denial of the incidents from U of T, we just have empty words from someone relying on what they think is the anonymity of the Internet.

Again, if Profesor Bhuyan has been done an injustice, I would be anxious to correct it, but until someone is prepared to do so on the record with facts, no one is going to take them seriously.

Anonymous said...

I think Bhuyan should be fired. She is disgusting to speak of Jews in this way and U of T is endorsing her speech by not responding. Historically, when Jews leave, it usually hurts a country or establishment. I suggest that Jews chose another university for study. Let U of T not make it in the university ratings. That would be what they deserve!

Richard K said...

An individual has evidently been tracking this story and is leaving the same comment about the web, trying to intimidate bloggers. I've been leaving this response on some blogs and again, invite the person to have the courage to come forward, on the record, if they feel there is anything untrue - if they go on the record, I'll give them an opportunity to say their piece, but there's no way of checking it if they remain anonymous.

---- ----- ---

As it happens a good deal of investigation did go into the article. Social Work Dean Mishna was informed that I would proceed with it and I asked her to correct any of the substance of Professor Lightman’s account that she thought was factually wrong. All she did was to correct the date of an incident from 2008 to 2009. She also sent out 2 letters condemning anti-Semitism in the department as a result of the incidents in Bhuyan’s class. If nothing happened, why did those letters go out? Bhuyan has not responded to a request to comment.

I gave this anonymous person, whose comment came from the Sherbourne Street Health Centre in Toronto (I can track those things) which was already notorious for posting an anti-Israel essay contest back in 2008, (http://womenslens.blogspot.com/2008/03/anti-israel-essay-contest-scrubbed.html) an opportunity to respond on the record. He/she failed to do so, whereas Professors Lightman and Chambon have had the courage to publicly expose this matter.

By extension, this person is alleging that Professor Adreinne Chambon lied to me in the interview she gave me and from which I quoted her. So let’s see if this
"Factor Inwentash Graduate, MSW '10" has the guts to come forward, without hiding behind a pseudonym, to state what he/she claims happened.

I think this person is nothing more than an anonymous coward trying to intimidate people out of telling the truth. If that’s not the case let them come forward, on the record, the way that Ernie Lightman and Adrienne Chambon have.

Shel_TR said...

Richard: Your effort is noble and commendable. Don't waste your energies to extend opportunity where it is unwarranted. Those who wish to hate will do so regardless of objective realities. The rest of us are quite satisfied with the truth.

Anonymous said...

As a Jew of Ethiopian and Morrocan descent, an black, African Jew ... this entire thread makes me shake my head in disgust.

I guess my very existence would blow the minds of many of the ignorant people here, from those denouncing anti-semitism but being obviously racist, to those promoting anti-semitism and thinking they speak on behalf of all 'racialized' people.

You're all a joke. The only one who remotely made any sense is Jill Maloney, and she and I probably would not see eye to eye on a lot of things.

This is a sad, sad world, but years ago my family moved to a promised land called Canada because they wanted freedom. You all scare me, very very much.

Richard K said...

Anonymous above raises a good point - Jews are not all "white Europeans" and to generalize that they are is just another example of the narrow minded stereotyping that permeates the thinking perpetuated in Equity Studies programs and other Marxist-influenced "oppression politics" based courses in universities.

Anonymous said...

I will be attending three classes of Professor Rupaleem Bhuyan’s this year. Is there a source of facts or findings to this article? Is there a response from Professor Rupaleem Bhuyan anywhere? I have read the article in The Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.

As an incoming student, I do not know what to say or who I can speak to about my concerns, without feeling I am placing myself in a disadvantaging position. Ethically, I feel like I am in handcuffs.

Anonymous said...

Read the course description for:

SWK4306H, Process of Social Exclusion, Marginalization & Resistance, Bhuyan, R.


Confused? So am I!!

Richard K said...

Prior to writing the article, I emailed Prof. Bhuyan letting her know I was writing about the incident, using Prof. Lightman's journal article as a reference (I also interviewed him, Prof. Chambon, & Bernie Farber) and asked if she would like to provide her point of view. She did not respond.

Social Work Dept. Dean, Prof. Mishna was asked if there were any facual errors prior to publication and she corrected the date of one incident, but did not deny to me that Prof. Lightman's account of what happened in the class was correct.

Good luck with your studies. I would not expect, with all the publicity, that there wil be a repeat of what happened in Prof. Bhuyan's class soon.

On the other hand, I didn't imagine that Queers Against Israeli Apartheid would be stupid enough to put Pride Toronto's funding in jeopardy by turning out this year, and that happened.

Anonymous said...

Have a headache? The next time you reach for the aspirin bottle, thank Dr Beyer....yes a Jew !

U of T student said...

Seriously, it makes me sick to be a U of T student, I don't even know why I bother paying my tuition (my personal savings earned through hard work), what sort of people/causes does it support exactly? More and more I think about abandoning my quest for a university degree altogether, my ambition is to become a professor, what serious chances do I have to become one (I'm Jewish and openly pro-Israel) in the current academic environment across Canada or even the U.S.? I'm in my mid 20's so it's still not too late to go to some college and earn some boring (but much in demand) trade diploma.

I strongly suspect that there are much more anti-Semitic incidents on U of T campus than we're aware of, unfortunately few students are brave enough to complain without fear of very real academic repercussions that might come their way.

Anonymous said...

Jews are passengers in the Titanic, as many times before in history, but out of sheer stupidity (jews are extremely stupid in matters of antisrmitism) want to believe the tip of the iceberg is just a piece of white styrofoam adrift. The fact is the comments the North African students made about Jews are just a crude formnof expressing what perhaps most Anglo-European Canadians feel about Jews. So, the nitroglycerine is alredy around. The only question is when and what will set it off. Once that happens all the so called power of the Jews will collapse like sugar in hot water.

It is the conditions that set antisemitism off. We can argue all we want antisemitism is irrtional and point to 6 million all we want to no effect. Besides it is irrational to fight irrational feelings with "rational" argument.

As for the politicians there is no bloody way pf knowing if Harper is principled or not. In my view a "principled politician " is like a "moderate fundamentalist"...

In the US violent antisemitism is close because the moral, social and economic mess the country is is in.

So, move!, move baby! move! Only in Israel there is safety, for now. I say fo now because if the Israelis do not find a way be accepted by Arabs while it has the edge on nuclear weapons, for example helping Palestinians prosper and compensating them with lots of money in exchange for no return, etc., once the Arabs get the bomb which they will sooner of later in face of Iran and rapidly "rusting" US military, then Israel's option would be to perish in a thermonuclear Massada as the Arabs by and large will care little to lose 100 million of their own as long as Israel is vaporized or render uninhabitable for a few winters.

Pass it on if you want

Anonymous said...

This whole thread of posts is incredibly sad. Antisemitism has become it's own category but how is it really any different from plain, old, hideous racism as it affects everyone? Intolerance is an ugly thing which has a long history in and across many cultures, not exclusive to any one or other; however, it seems that claimants to the suffering of intolerance are often ready and even eager to deny it to someone else. If a person believes that there is apartheid in Israel then they are anti-semitic, if another person (or the same) sees a problem with gendered violence in Islam they are a racist. Everything has become so highly politicized that there is no room for discussion or criticism without accusations of bigotry and racism, this cannot be healthy for any race, never mind for a multicultural society. Racism towards Jews, Muslims, Africans or anyone else is all essentially the same thing; if you are not willing to stand up against it in all of its forms, but only as it affects your personal race, you are most also likely a racist just like those you condemn, regardless of whether you are Jewish, Muslim, African or anything else. It is just so disappointing to see such hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

Just a question as to a comment made by Richard about "Queers Against Israeli Apartheid". Why is it so important to quash differences of opinion? Why is criticism of political policy in what has, correct me if I am wrong, a country self defined by race? I certainly do not refute the right of Israel, or any other nation, including Palestine, to existence and sovereignty; however, since when did criticism of political policy amount to racism? When I hear to outrage against discussion and criticism of some of Israel's policy choices I hear to ominous drum of oppression and totalitarianism under the guise of freedom. Why is the University of Toronto being condemned for hosting a discussion of what is a very unpopular thing to touch upon. It my experience as a Canadian and Torontonian it is VERY unpopular to criticize anything that Israel does, doing so immediately brings accusations of being an antisemite and terrorist sympathizer - which is absolutely insane. In fact it reminds me of how those who have objected to American military operations where termed un-American and also, terrorist sympathizers. This "if you're not with us, you're against us" attitude has got to go, it is polarizing and creates needless hostility between people who under different conditions would likely be highly sympathetic to one another. When discussion and debate is restricted oppression and authoritarianism is present, whether from the majority, or yes, particularly in our time, from the minority. Criticism is not racism, but calling all critics racists is bigotry.

Richard K said...

Anonymous comment came in, which I've excised a word from, saying: "This XXXX professor should be fired and allowed to teach in Syria."