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TMU students face criticism over open letter on Israel-Hamas war


Toronto Metropolitan University says that an open letter from a group of students at its law school declaring their support for “all forms of Palestinian resistance” and denying Israel’s existence while calling for a ceasefire in the region doesn’t reflect its “values of inclusivity and respect.”

The letter authored by a group called the “Abolitionist Organizing Collective” was first posted online on Friday, but has since been removed.

It was signed by more than 70 individuals, many anonymously, who mostly identified themselves as students at the Lincoln Alexander School of Law (LASL).

“The Lincoln Alexander School of Law did not issue, endorse, or condone this letter and unequivocally condemns all statements that promote terrorism, discrimination, racism, violence, and hate,” a statement issued by the university on Monday states.

Among other things, the letter demands that the downtown university’s law school reverse its “neutral” position on the Israel-Hamas war, which its authors charged “implicitly denies colonialism and upholds racism and Islamophobia.”

The letter asserts that “’Israel’ is not a country” and claims Israel is responsible for the surprise Hamas attack that killed 1,400 of its citizens.

The Palestine Liberation Organization, which is internationally recognized as the representative of the Palestinian people, recognized Israel’s existence during peace talks in the 1990s. Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by Canada, does not.

In its statement on Monday, TMU acknowledged “the pain and distress” that the letter has caused and said that the language used in it “does not reflect the views of the law school” or “many” of its students, faculty and staff.

Lincoln Alexander School of Law also released a separate statement responding to the letter on Friday.

Their message, which was shared on Linkedin, said that statements seeking to “promote or justify violence directly contravene (the school’s) values.”

“As educators and members of the legal community, we maintain our support for Israeli and Palestinian statehood and we stand with those who advocate for a peaceful, sustainable de-escalation and resolution of the conflict,” LASL wrote.

“We expect our students, staff and faculty to engage in civil discourse that supports human rights, upholds the rule of law, and promotes understanding while being mindful of the core principles of freedom of expression. The law school does not tolerate Antisemitism, Islamophobia or statements that promote violence, terrorism, discrimination, racism, and hate.”

Calls for disciplinary action

The controversy over the letter comes after York University demanded that three student union groups recant a statement which referred to Hamas Oct. 7 attack on Israel as “a strong act of resistance."

In a statement provided to CP24 on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Universities and Colleges said that it expects “that TMU will adopt appropriate measures to address this incident, as well as any incidents of hate, racism, and discrimination at their institutions.”

At this point it is not clear whether TMU plans to take any disciplinary action against the students.

National Jewish organization B’Nai Brith is, however, calling on the school to expel its students who signed the letter, which they said “(denies) Israel’s right to exist and (condones) terrorism.”

“Our law schools, who are training the next generation of officers of the court, must not tolerate students who publicly justify the most heinous acts of terrorism,” Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith Canada’s CEO, said in a statement.

“This hateful screed is antithetical to the rule of law and those who endorsed it must have no future role within our judicial system. We have written to TMU and fully expect it to do the only reasonable thing and expel all signatories to this despicable letter.”

More than 6,000 people have died on both sides since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7. Top Stories

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