Public condemnation of professor’s flyer contrary to collective agreement

Social sciences professor distributed information on ‘pro-Israel’ elements in university administration to students; University called it anti-Semitic
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today

An Ontario university did not defame a professor in a media release denouncing material in a pamphlet he distributed but did violate the collective agreement by denying his right to academic freedom, an arbitrator has ruled.

David Noble, a social sciences professor at York University in Toronto, distributed a flyer to students from his classes at a film screening by a student group supporting Palestinian human rights on Nov. 18, 2004. The flyer said the fundraising foundation for the university was “biased by the presence and influence of staunch pro-Israel lobbyists, activists and fundraising agencies” and promoted further research. It named several members of the foundation’s board of directors, many of whom were Jewish.

The next day, York released a media statement labelling the flyer as anti-Semitic and “targeting Jewish members of the York community.” At the time, York didn’t know Noble was the author and there was no reference to him. However, Noble was named in a release the same day issued by the Canadian Jewish Congress condemning his comments.