Montreal, May 3, 2016 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) joined with other important community organizations signing an open letter applauding the success of York University President Mamdouh Shoukri at creating an inclusive and respectful environment for York students. The organizations addressed the letter to York U. President Shoukri, and thanked him for the meaningful and effective ways he had dealt with various controversies at York U.
President Shoukri has come under criticism in recent months by strident pro-Israel groups, accusing him of not doing enough to quell controversy on campus and not doing enough to ensure that Jewish students “feel safe.” The open letter pointed out that controversy and debate are inevitable phenomena in a thriving democracy, and applauded Shoukri’s efforts at “fostering a marketplace of diverse viewpoints” while avoiding attempts to “erase all controversy.” The letter pointed out YorkU. helps young Canadians mature as citizens as they are exposed to viewpoints of others beyond students’ communities of origin. “The University experience should be an eye-opening one for all students,” asserts CJPME President Thomas Woodley. “While meeting others with different viewpoints may be disconcerting or distressing, it is also very formative.”
The open letter pointed out that many people may have reason to feel unsafe on Canadian campuses: women, the LGBT community, indigenous peoples, and other minorities. The letter noted that Canada has a comprehensive criminal code to protect people who face a tangible threat or illicit behaviour. Yet Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not seek to guarantee “freedom from fear,” as this would be impossible. The open letter warns, “Those who insist that you ensure that all students at York ‘feel safe’ are setting an impossible goal, and waiting to blame you when you fail.”
The open letter also acknowledged the herculean efforts that Shoukri and York have made to create a vibrant, diverse and inclusive environment on campus. The signing organizations recognized York’s formal principles and policies to ensure inclusion and diversity, as well as the many programs promoting inclusion and harmony on campus. The signing organizations conclude, “We thank and support you for the meaningful ways you have consistently dealt with issues at York, and recognize York as a North American leader in cultivating a vibrant, diverse and inclusive campus community.”
About CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.
For more information, please contact CJPME at 438-380-5410
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org
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