Math department faculty forced to sign anti-Israel letter in order to attend ‘equity forum’

Concerns by some faculty at the University of Toronto over a requirement to sign an anti-Israel letter in order to attend an “Equity Forum” were evidently ignored as the event went ahead as planned.

The forum on “decolonizing in mathematics” was held last week reportedly without incident even though professionals in the math department and other faculty “told department managers about the event and their concerns about the unsettling restriction on attendance,” noted Jonathan Kay of the online magazine Quillette.

Ila Varma, an associate professor of mathematics at the University of Toronto, told colleagues in an email on October 31 that she was hopeful all attendees were there “in good faith and with open minds, interested in learning about decolonizing in mathematics, and has read (and if you’re faculty, signed) the following open letter.”

She emphasized that there would be “no tolerance for any Islamophobia or anti-Semitism” and to be mindful that there are students attending who are “worried about their safety.”

Though Varma made no specific mention of the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists which left over 1,400 Israelis dead, the attached petition was filled with accusations against Israel.

The petition alleges that the Middle Eastern nation is subjecting Palestinians in Gaza to “industrial-scale violence of unfathomable proportions,” to war crimes and “to siege and starvation.”

The petition goes on to claim that “Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have killed one child every 15 minutes,” though there is no mention of the barbaric surprise attack on unsuspecting Israelis that provoked the retaliation, with Hamas terrorists reportedly responsible for the beheading of dozens of babies and children, among other atrocities.

Denouncing the U.S. and other governments for supporting “these crimes without condition,” the message declares, “No to fascist incitement!” and “No to this nihilistic and gainless war!”

The petition concludes with a call for a ceasefire in the hostilities among other things.

Kay also shared a screenshot of Varma’s faculty page, “which she uses to publish denunciations of ‘the Zionist settler colonial state.'”

“She means Israel, as in the Israel Journal of Mathematics, in which she published the referenced paper in 2022,” he tweeted.

“I was made aware of this by the woman’s colleagues, several of whom apparently told department managers about the event and their concerns about the unsettling restriction on attendance,” Kay wrote. “Nothing was done, and so the event reportedly went forward as advertised.”

The fact that even a subject as straightforward as math is now infected with calls for equity sparked an outcry on social media where X users blasted the Univerity of Toronto and the leftist faculty members.


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