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Canadian minister: Reconsider forum on Mideast

TORONTO (JTA) — Canada’s minister of science is under fire for asking a government agency to reconsider its financial support for a conference on the future of Israel and the Palestinians.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers, which represents 65,000 academics, is calling for the resignation of Gary Goodyear, the minister of state for science and technology, because of his "unprecedented efforts to interfere" with the June 22-24 conference in Toronto.

Titled "Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace," the conference received a grant of nearly $18,000 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council earlier this year. The council is a federal agency that promotes and supports university-based research and training in the humanities and social sciences.

The teachers said in a statement that Goodyear contacted the president of the council "to express political concerns, [which] is not something we have seen in this country since the McCarthy period." Goodyear’s move is "unacceptable and sets a very dangerous precedent."

A peer review committee comprised of scholars from a number of academic disciplines made the decision to award the grant. Goodyear contacted the council to request that a second peer review committee assess whether the conference was still worthy of public funds, given that the initial proposal did not have details about who would be speaking at the gathering.

Jewish groups have welcomed Goodyear’s effort and  denounced the conference as an attempt to deny Israel’s right to exist because it will, they allege, emphasize a one-state solution.

B’nai Brith Canada called the conference a "blatant exercise in anti-Zionist propaganda … which questions the Jewish state’s very right to exist [and] promises to be a veritable who’s who of anti-Israel propagandists."
 

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