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UBC professor of medicine resigns over response to rising antisemitism

Dr. Ted Rosenberg claims the university faculty of medicine has failed to address rising antisemitism on campus during the Israel-Hamas war

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A longtime professor in the University of B.C.’s faculty of medicine has resigned over what he sees as an inadequate response to antisemitism on campus.

Dr. Ted Rosenberg of Victoria, who has been with UBC for three decades, sent a resignation letter on New Year’s Day to medical faculty dean Dr. Dermot Kelleher, effective Tuesday.

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The three-page correspondence outlines a number of Rosenberg’s grievances, including that a medical student has been circulating a petition featuring anti-Israel and antisemitic statements in the name of supporting Gaza residents during the Israel-Hamas conflict.

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He also claims an assistant professor in the faculty has been posting historically revisionist, anti-Jewish statements and memes on social media without any repercussions from UBC administrators. One post cited by Rosenberg shows an image of the Christian holy family under the rubble in Gaza as it is bombed by Israel.

“I cannot think of a clearer example of classical Jew-hating antisemitism than this modern-day resurrection of the charge of Deicide,” he wrote. “The accusation of being ‘Christ killers’ was responsible for the worst violence and oppression against Jews for millennia.”

The same professor shared another link, said Rosenberg, “to a petition on X (formerly Twitter) advocating investigation and exclusion of Jewish adjudicators” from the Canadian resident matching service (CaRMS) over perceived racism.

“These demonizing accusations are not just directed against the state of Israel, but by proxy, to all its supporters, including the vast majority of Jews in the diaspora. We as Jewish faculty feel these attacks personally and deeply.”

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Rosenberg goes on to claim the university’s own website on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) fails to refer to Jews or antisemitism as specific targets of hate.

“Unfortunately, despite stressing the university’s commitment to respect, compassion and inclusion and referring individual complaints to EDI, you did not address any of our specific concerns re: the medical student’s petition, antisemitism within the faculty, or concerns that politicization and polarization of the Middle East conflict are creating a toxic work environment,” read Rosenberg’s letter.

Spokesperson Kurt Heinrich responded that UBC and its faculty of medicine “have been very clear that antisemitism, or discrimination of any kind, is completely unacceptable.

“We are committed to creating a safe and respectful environment for all of our community members and will continue to take steps to do so,” Heinrich said in a statement.

He said the university’s discrimination policy closely mirrors B.C.’s Human Rights Code, and said Dean Kelleher reinforced his faculty’s commitment to respect and dialogue in a “sombre” pre-Christmas message.

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But Heinrich also agreed there is work to do.

“In response to concerns raised by faculty and learners, the faculty of medicine is also working expediently to develop educational opportunities for inclusive learning and respectful dialogue within the faculty in areas that directly reflect our stated values, including how we address issues such as discrimination, harassment and hate speech,” said Heinrich.

However, Rosenberg suggests UBC is falling behind federal efforts to acknowledge and respond to hate against Jews in Canada as it has escalated during the Israel-Hamas war.

“The Canadian government released a document on antisemitism that was updated in February 2023,” said Rosenberg.

“This document clearly states that Jewish people, together with the Black community, are the number one target of hate crimes in Canada. It also describes the problem of rising antisemitism and intimidation of Jews on campuses, and that the rate of antisemitic hate crimes track closely with escalations of the conflict in the Middle East.”

Rosenberg pleaded with UBC to listen to a group of 284 “concerned Jewish physicians” and to work with them “to constructively, collaboratively, and proactively rectify this situation and ultimately help restore respect, compassion, empathy and trust among colleagues and students.”

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