OISE MA thesis denounced in Ontario legislature

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kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Dodger718 wrote:

Indeed those Jews who may best be described as "fundamentalists" are the same ones who place the LEAST emphasis on Holocaust history or zionism. They're too busy studying Torah.

Would you care to give us your academic cites for this notion? Seems counter intuitive to me in the context of Israel and the occupied territories. I read various sources and have seen many pictures of settlers in the occupied territories who appear to be fundamentalist practitioners of the Jewish faith. So please explain how they are the LEAST likely to be zionists?  

I personally think that religion is a smoke screen for the real settler nature of the culture but that is pure conjecture on my part. It seems the Israelis settler class wants to have their own genocidal war with the "natives" just like the good ole USA fought its great and "noble" indian wars. 

Quote:

A member of Neturei Karta, an ultra-Orthodox movement within the anti-Zionist bloc, stands with a Palestinian during Israeli-Palestinian clashes during a Israeli settler march in the mostly Arab neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem, Sunday.

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2010/0425/Israeli-Pale...

Quote:

Settlers Torch Olive Orchard In Hebron

Friday March 12, 2010 10:22 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

A group of fundamentalist Jewish settlers burnt on Thursday at night an olive orchard in Safa village, north west of Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank. 

Dozens of settlers torched the grove while the Israeli army did not attempt to intervene or stop them. 

The residents called the local civil defense and firefighters but the army prevented them from reaching the grove. 

Soldiers also attacked an international peace activist and confiscated his camera for taking pictures of the assault and the soldiers. 

The land in question is 25 Dunams (6.17 Acres) planted with Olives and some evergreens. 

http://www.aljazeerah.info/News/2010/March/12%20n/Israeli%20Police%20App...

 

Dodger718

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Would you care to give us your academic cites for this notion? Seems counter intuitive to me in the context of Israel and the occupied territories. I read various sources and have seen many pictures of settlers in the occupied territories who appear to be fundamentalist practitioners of the Jewish faith. So please explain how they are the LEAST likely to be zionists?  

Have you ever studied either Jewish theology or history?

Zionism began as a secular movement. The Orthodox world was united against it. Even today, the most ultra-orthodox sects (including those in Israel) are officially anti-zionist. Google a book called "Vayoel Moshe", it was written by Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, the Rebbe (grand leader) of the world's largest Hasidic group, the Satmars, and one of the great Jewish scholars of the last century. He claims that the establishment of the state of Israel is prohibited by the Torah. Satmar followers in Israel will not accept a dime in government money and go so far as refusing to ride on public transit because it is funded by the zionist government.

oldgoat

Dodger718 wrote:

Ripple wrote:

Dodger, for someone who thinks this is an "insignificant issue" you're sure spending some time on it.

Well, I'm just some guy with too much free time at work, as opposed to a group of elected officials who you'd assume would have more important issues to deal with...Laughing

 

You'd probably be surprized how many Israeli gov't supporters we used to get around here who seem to have a lot of free time at work.  They all seemed to go away for a bit.  I was getting worried.

Dodger718

oldgoat wrote:

You'd probably be surprized how many Israeli gov't supporters we used to get around here who seem to have a lot of free time at work.  They all seemed to go away for a bit.  I was getting worried.

I would think that anyone who is able to engage in online discussions in the middle of the day would seem to have a lot of free time at work...

Unionist

Dodger718 wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Would you care to give us your academic cites for this notion? Seems counter intuitive to me in the context of Israel and the occupied territories. I read various sources and have seen many pictures of settlers in the occupied territories who appear to be fundamentalist practitioners of the Jewish faith. So please explain how they are the LEAST likely to be zionists?  

Have you ever studied either Jewish theology or history?

Zionism began as a secular movement. The Orthodox world was united against it. Even today, the most ultra-orthodox sects (including those in Israel) are officially anti-zionist. Google a book called "Vayoel Moshe", it was written by Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, the Rebbe (grand leader) of the world's largest Hasidic group, the Satmars, and one of the great Jewish scholars of the last century. He claims that the establishment of the state of Israel is prohibited by the Torah. Satmar followers in Israel will not accept a dime in government money and go so far as refusing to ride on public transit because it is funded by the zionist government.

Dodger is correct. "Religious" Zionism is a much more recent construct than the modern political Zionism of Herzl et al which began in the 19th century. Orthodox Judaism before WWII was overwhelmingly opposed to the notion of a physical "return to Zion" before the coming of the Messiah.

Kropotkin, and others, come join some of our "Free Palestine" demos, if you don't already attend them in your cities, and I'll happily introduce you to bearded black-clothed Rabbis on megaphones condemning not only Israeli aggression and apartheid, but the very existence of the state of Israel itself. As for the Satmar Hassidim, there must be 100,000 of them or so all told. They are anti-Zionist in the full sense of the word.

Israel was founded by people who were not only non-religious, but in many cases agnostic and atheist. Any attempt to conflate Israel with the Jewish people reflects mischief of two kinds: 1) pro-Zionist; or 2) anti-semitic.

No one should underestimate the nefarious influence that champions of Israel and Zionism have on Jews everywhere. But the same was true (God forgive me in advance) for Nazis influencing Germans.

Israel is not my homeland. Its crimes must not be committed in my name.

Please stop trying to connect Israel with Judaism. We don't appreciate attempts to depict Osama Bin Laden as being a very religious Muslim either.

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

The religious fundamentalism I was referring to was that of the so-called "Christian" component of the former CCCJ, who now cower under the banner of the 'Centre for Diversity'. Between the corporate clowns brown-nosing for brownie-points, the Xian religious wackjobs, and the big-name big-$$$ Zionists there, I can't imagine a more bizarre collection.

"Diversity", indeed.

Lord Palmerston

Dodger718 wrote:
Indeed those Jews who may best be described as "fundamentalists" are the same ones who place the LEAST emphasis on Holocaust history or zionism. They're too busy studying Torah.

A bit of a diversion, but I'll bring this in.  In the excellent film Defamation, Yoav Shamir asks an Orthodox rabbi about anti-Semitism.  This rabbi states that "fighting anti-Semitism" isn't on the agenda for religious Jews, because the Torah says nothing about it.  He says it's more of a means for secular Jews to express their Jewish identity.

http://www.archive.org/details/Hashmatsa

(The scene I'm referring to starts at about 41 minutes into the film)

Lord Palmerston

OTOH, I don't think it's right to talk about Orthodox Judaism being anti-Zionist.  Most of the surveys I've seen show that Orthodox Jews are by the far most attached to Israel among North American Jews.

For instance, Peter Beinart has an excellent essay about the end of so-called liberal Zionism, as secular Jews with liberal values are becoming less attached to Israel, and how the future of Zionism is increasingly hard-right and Orthodox.

Peter Beinart wrote:
Because they marry earlier, intermarry less, and have more children, Orthodox Jews are growing rapidly as a share of the American Jewish population. According to a 2006 American Jewish Committee (AJC) survey, while Orthodox Jews make up only 12 percent of American Jewry over the age of sixty, they constitute 34 percent between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four. For America’s Zionist organizations, these Orthodox youngsters are a potential bonanza. In their yeshivas they learn devotion to Israel from an early age; they generally spend a year of religious study there after high school, and often know friends or relatives who have immigrated to Israel. The same AJC study found that while only 16 percent of non-Orthodox adult Jews under the age of forty feel “very close to Israel,” among the Orthodox the figure is 79 percent. As secular Jews drift away from America’s Zionist institutions, their Orthodox counterparts will likely step into the breach. The Orthodox “are still interested in parochial Jewish concerns,” explains Samuel Heilman, a sociologist at the City University of New York. “They are among the last ones who stayed in the Jewish house, so they now control the lights.”

But it is this very parochialism—a deep commitment to Jewish concerns, which often outweighs more universal ones—that gives Orthodox Jewish Zionism a distinctly illiberal cast. The 2006 AJC poll found that while 60 percent of non-Orthodox American Jews under the age of forty support a Palestinian state, that figure drops to 25 percent among the Orthodox. In 2009, when Brandeis University’s Theodore Sasson asked American Jewish focus groups about Israel, he found Orthodox participants much less supportive of dismantling settlements as part of a peace deal. Even more tellingly, Reform, Conservative, and unaffiliated Jews tended to believe that average Palestinians wanted peace, but had been ill-served by their leaders. Orthodox Jews, by contrast, were more likely to see the Palestinian people as the enemy, and to deny that ordinary Palestinians shared any common interests or values with ordinary Israelis or Jews.

Orthodox Judaism has great virtues, including a communal warmth and a commitment to Jewish learning unmatched in the American Jewish world. (I’m biased, since my family attends an Orthodox synagogue.) But if current trends continue, the growing influence of Orthodox Jews in America’s Jewish communal institutions will erode even the liberal-democratic veneer that today covers American Zionism. In 2002, America’s major Jewish organizations sponsored a large Israel solidarity rally on the Washington Mall. Up and down the east coast, yeshivas shut down for the day, swelling the estimated Orthodox share of the crowd to close to 70 percent. When the then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told the rally that “innocent Palestinians are suffering and dying as well,” he was booed.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/jun/10/failure-american-je...

Dodger718

Lord Palmerston wrote:

A bit of a diversion, but I'll bring this in.  In the excellent film Defamation, Yoav Shamir asks an Orthodox rabbi about anti-Semitism.  This rabbi states that "fighting anti-Semitism" isn't on the agenda for religious Jews, because the Torah says nothing about it.  He says it's more of a means for secular Jews to express their Jewish identity.

I've seen that film and thought it was great and a much needed wake up call for much of my own community.

I tend to agree. One of my big pet peeves, indeed, is "secular Jews' whose primary Jewish identity is through Holocaust remebrerance but who don't actually study or practice Judaism. I grew up in more of a "modern orthodox community" and there was a big emphasis on both the Holocaust and Israel. On the other hand, my wife grew up in what may be called an "ultra-orthodox" community (her father is an orthodox rabbi who received ordination from Rav Moshe Feinstein, ztl) and there was next to no emphasis on these things. It was all about learning Torah and Jewish practice.

Unionist

Lord Palmerston wrote:

OTOH, I don't think it's right to talk about Orthodox Judaism being anti-Zionist.  Most of the surveys I've seen show that Orthodox Jews are by the far most attached to Israel among North American Jews.

 

Yes, LP, I was talking about pre-WWII. I also spoke of the overwhelming onslaught of Zionist propaganda against Jewish communities around the world, which have had their impact. These days, even Christian Conservative Cabinet ministers are Zionists - never mind Orthodox Jews. Times have changed. But they will change back, with the extraordinary cunning of history.

In any event, there is the same difference between "Orthodox Jews" and Judaism as there is between Muslims and Islam, and between Catholics and the Catholic Church - and all three vary by country and time and context. Polls tell you how successful the ideological onslaught against a subject population has been at a given time. They do not prove that Jews are Zionists, nor that Orthodox Jews are more Zionist than others.

 

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Unionist wrote:

They do not prove that Jews are Zionists, nor that Orthodox Jews are more Zionist than others.

I agree with you Unionist. what I was correcting was this Israeli apologists claim that practitioners of the fundamentalist style of judaism would be the LEAST likely to support Zionism.  I probably would have ignored it except this is from a poster who claims a thesis should be attacked for its shoddy viewpoints that are unsupported.  That is like saying devout catholics are LEAST likely to embrace fascism. Either are claims unsupported by any evidence or academic research.  Dodge if you want to attack an academic work you should be more careful in your generalizations based on your own view of the world.  I notice that you went immediately into anecdotal evidence of your family, another thing you pillared this thesis for. 

I quite frankly don't know who of the jewish faith are the least likely to be zionist. I just want some proof for this statement from someone who insists ever factoid must be precise.

Dodger718

kropotkin1951 wrote:

  Dodge if you want to attack an academic work you should be more careful in your generalizations based on your own view of the world.  I notice that you went immediately into anecdotal evidence of your family, another thing you pillared this thesis for. 

 

Dude, I'm casually engaging discussions in an online forum during breaks at work. I'm not expecting to be awarded a masters degree from a prestigious university for my efforts. Different standards apply. Just like I wouldn't apply the same standards in critiquing someone's doodles as I would to someone's submission for an MFA from Pratt.

The fact that anecdotal evidence from MY family experience differs from anecdotal examples of HER family experience only seems to suggest that using anecdotes from one's own life doesn't really say a hell of a lot. I think this author and I are roughly the same age and come from a very similar background. We each have our own subjective interpretations of our experiences.

But pointing out isolated personal observations doesn't reallyhelp us get to some capital-t Truth. My grandfather was a heavy smoker who lived to be 91. But if I were to include that as an argument that smoking is good for you in a graduate thesis in biochemistry, it would be pointed out that it's irrelevant

Caissa

I read her introduction this morning. She seems to have laid out her lens of analysis.  One may agree or disagree with it.Debating that lens is part of the the great academic debate.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Dodger718 wrote:

But pointing out isolated personal observations doesn't reallyhelp us get to some capital-t Truth. My grandfather was a heavy smoker who lived to be 91. But if I were to include that as an argument that smoking is good for you in a graduate thesis in biochemistry, it would be pointed out that it's irrelevant

Strange I would think that to ignore the family history in your little tale would be a major flaw. Genetics is a relevant point in any analysis of smoking.  I notice that you equate her argument about Israeli society with someone arguing that smoking is not only not harmful but indeed good for your health.  Wow quite the balanced analogy. 

Dodger718

She's not talking about "Israeli society". Did you read it? She, herself, makes clear that she is focusing on North America, and the role of Holocaust education. Further, religious and political beliefs, unlike health issues have nothing to do with "genetics".

I'm sorry that she feels taht she had a negative experience growing up in a Jewish family, attending Jewish schools and living in a Jewish community. But, first, I had a similar upbringing and feel the opposite and, second, she seems to be letting her bitterness towards her personal experience bias her attitudes in the arguments she presents.

Caissa

I don't think she would argue that she made an attempt to be objective.

ETA: I'll be away on vacation until January 3.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Dodger, what makes you think that the standards you've instinctually made up based on no experieince in cultural studies or education should be the same standards by which a piece of academic literature is assessed?

ETA:

Caissa wrote:
ETA: I'll be away on vacation until January 3.

Must be nice. :/ Have a great trip. (Don't hurry back...)

Dodger718

Just to reiterate my point that people can have very similar experiences and each interpret them subjectively, here is a letter from Jenny Peto's brother.

It is not my desire to get involved with the details of my sister Jenny Peto's thesis, which has recently generated tremendous controversy. There are people far more qualified than I to debate the merits of the thesis, or lack thereof. There is, however, one point that I would like to contest. My sister dedicated her thesis to our late grandmother, Jolan Peto. She asserted that if our grandmother "were alive today, she would be right there with me protesting against Israeli apartheid."

Our grandmother was the youngest teacher at the Jewish orphanage in Budapest during the Second World War. She, along with my grandfather, saved countless children from death at the hands of the Nazis. After the war, she saw firsthand the brutality and baseness of the communist regime that came into power. She, along with our grandfather and father escaped to Canada, and celebrated the day of their arrival each and every year. Freedom was not an abstract idea to her; it was alive and tangible for her.

Our grandmother was a soft-spoken woman, but she had an iron will. She taught us to abhor hatred, and to strive for excellence in everything we did. She was a woman of endless patience and generosity, and boundless love. She was uncompromising in her dedication to truth and honesty, and was also an ardent supporter of the state of Israel. My sister is simply wrong; our grandmother would have been entirely opposed to her anti-Israel protests.

Our grandmother had a tremendous impact on my life, and her memory continues to be a source of strength and inspiration to my family. My daughter is named after her, and we pray that she will emulate her namesake. I cannot in good conscience allow my sister to misappropriate publicly our grandmother's memory to suit her political ideology.

David Peto, Houston.

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/todays-paper/Peto+Peto+Keep+Grandma/3984596/story.html#ixzz18JNkQ2nE

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Wow, what an asshole.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Ripple! Love, love love your post of the correspondence. I loved seeing Cohn degenerate into nonsensical blathering. Thank you!!

So Dodger, your posting of the letter from Peto's brother, what he said, this is what you object to in Peto's thesis summary? I say summary since neither you nor I have read it.

So....not the "shoddy scholarship"? Not the lack of an "objective lens" bla bla, after you admitted you haven't studied the social sciences, and having been given a really excellent primer on that discipline from Catchfire?

It's her anti-Israel stance that you object to then?

You could have saved us all a lot of bother and just said that earlier.

 

Dodger718

It's her using personal bitterness from her family and childhood memories to trash not just Israel (which is fair game) but the larger Jewish community in which we both grew up and in which I continue to live.

Tehanu

It's worth actually taking a look at her thesis before deciding on any conclusions about its validity or scholarly merit. Among other things, she has this to say about her methodology:

 

Quote:
My study involves in-depth research into the promotional and educational materials used on both the MRH and the MOL. This data was publicly available on the websites of both projects. Due to the limitations of a part-time Master's degree, I was unable to conduct interviews or participant observations on either trip. Should I pursue further studies, I would certainly want to observe the trips and speak to participants about their views of their experiences. Instead of speaking with participants, I have relied on many of the testimonials posted on the trips' websites. I acknowledge the limitations of this approach because organizers control the website and thus only certain testimonials are available. I still consider this a reliable source of data because my goal is to understand the intended effects of the trips; analyzing the testimonials that organizers consider to be success stories helps expose what they see as a desired outcome.

 

Content analysis is in fact a fairly standard qualitative research approach.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Wow, a Tehanu sighting! And this thread was beginning to make me feel grumpy. Now my whole day is turning around.

Actually, I was about to post that exact quote. True story.

But I'm also a bit confused. Apparently Dodger is upset that Peto is "trashing" the "the larger Jewish community." It's hard to square this with D's first post in this thread, which argues (from a position of ignorance) that Peto's thesis is not up to academic snuff. One of his/her major complaints seem to be that she doesn't acknowledge (sic) that the MRH is run by non-Jewish Canadians. What does this have to say about the "Jewish community"?

Her argument is:

Quote:
I start from the premise that Jewish people of European descent are a group that today holds power and privilege. In Israel, this dominant group oppresses Palestinians and non-white Jews. Worldwide, the organized Jewish community works tirelessly to support the racist Israeli state and in doing so, aligns itself with oppressive forces in their own countries. It has become abundantly clear that the historical victimization of Jewish people has not led the mainstream Jewish community to support anti-oppressive or anti-racist politics....My research is therefore aimed at answering the question of how can we explain the existence of a tremendous educational apparatus dedicated to teaching about the history of Jewish suffering within a mainstream Jewish community that is dominated by racist and Zionist ideologies? Rather than asking the morally loaded question of why most Jewish people seem not to have learned from their history, I instead want to ask what are they learning from the history they are being taught? In other words, what are the effects of education projects that focus on Jewish victimhood? Given the privilege – and I would call this white privilege – now enjoyed by Jews of European descent, how and why has Jewish identity continued to revolve around victimhood? Who benefits from the construction of a victimized Jewish identity?

This seems obvious to me: her analysis is not about the "Jewish community" (a term she indeed uses with a certain casualness, but without, I would argue, significant negative scholarly effect), but about holocaust education programs and their effects, particularly on Zionist narratives. Who's making extrapolations about her research to the "Jewish community" at  large?

Unionist

I read her introduction. It's very moving - eerily reminiscent of my own evolution and conflicts. But it goes way beyond what I learned and understood.

Anyway, I wish we could separate the discussion: 1. Her thesis, which obviously merits study and discussion. 2. The brutal attack on her and on academic freedom. There's just too much to encompass within one or a series of threads. Even those who don't share her analysis or conclusions must be called upon to counterattack against the Harperites and the Israel lobby. It can't come down to, "you agree with her views or you agree with the attacks against her". That's a trap.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I was thinking the same thing, Unionist, but it occurs to me that nobody (except for the ignorant equivalency argument at #8) supports the attack on academic freedom by the Ontario legislature (among others).

Of course, there is some slippage between the two--since what's motivating the criticism is its supposed anti-semitism. So it's important to defend it against those charges.

Dodger718

Unionist wrote:

I Even those who don't share her analysis or conclusions must be called upon to counterattack against the Harperites and the Israel lobby. It can't come down to, "you agree with her views or you agree with the attacks against her". That's a trap.

 

Well said. I think PARTS of her analysis are pure garbage. I think some are remarkably in line with my own thinking. Whatever her scholarship, she has the right to write whatever the hell she wants. But freedom of speech and academic freedom do not mean freedom from criticism.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Dodger718 wrote:

Quote:
Well said. I think PARTS of her analysis are pure garbage. I think some are remarkably in line with my own thinking. Whatever her scholarship, she has the right to write whatever the hell she wants. But freedom of speech and academic freedom do not mean freedom from criticism.

I'm saying that if even I - a guy who went to art school - can detect blatant FACTUAL ERRORS (discernable with two minutes and Google) in a masters level thesis from a top university, you have to question the "scholarship" behind it. I'd argue that the "pathetic biases" of her graduate supervisor are showing more blatantly than my own. As well as the author's biases which, to her credit, she makes no attempt to conceal. 

Undecided

al-Qa'bong

Maysie wrote:

The myth and belief in third-person passive-voice objectivity is sooo 20th century.

I've found that engineers are quite resistant to allowing students write in active voice and first person. 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/12/promoting-jewish-victimhood-as-guise-f... Jewish Victimhood as Guise for Victimizing Palestinians[/url], by Yves Engler

Unionist

Excellent article - thanks, M. Spector. The history of how the Canadian Jewish establishment ignored the Nazi genocide for more than two decades after the war resonates very clearly with my own memories and experience, as part of a family of genocide survivors. We (the immigrants, the workers, the poor) commemorated it annually, but it was never spoken of by the bigshots. When a way was found to use it in defence of Israel, whose expanding aggression and crimes against humanity were finally isolating it in world forums, all that began to change.

 

The Woolfman

Robbie_Dee has balanced this issue well. I too thought it was a bit overboard to have the thesis brought up on the floor of the Leg but I also observe that to the best of my knowledge there was no negastive reaction. Silence from those whom I would have otherwise expected to have something to say; Andrea, Peter, and others.

But trying to silence those who are critical of Peto's work is also contrary to what we expect in free asnd democratic societies. Let the debate here go ahead without attempts to shut it down.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

The only attempts to shut it down are coming from the powerful elites and their mouthpieces in the legislatures and parliaments.

Le T Le T's picture

So, I'm thinking about writing Cheri Di Novo an email to get her take on this. It's the obvious evolution from condemning IAW on campuses. What will be next the special Pro-Israel Parliamentary Committee reviewing tenure-track appointments?

Unionist

Le T wrote:

So, I'm thinking about writing Cheri Di Novo an email to get her take on this.

Leave poor DiNovo alone. She's still working on her complaint to the police about the death threats she got for courageously condemning pro-Palestinian activists. I think she's at the spell-check phase now...

You want the terrorists to win!!!???

 

torontoprofessor

A small point. Peto's supervisor, Julia O'Sullivan, PhD, writes, in her letter to Cohn, "Due to our privacy obligations to students, I cannot discuss an individual student's academic work or his or her performance." 

This is a misunderstanding of a professor's or supervisor's privacy obligatons to students. O'Sullivan should not publicly discuss any student's work that is not intended for public consumption, e.g., a student's oral exam or a paper handed into a course but never published. But once a student's or any other academic's work has been made public, it is no contravention of privacy to dissect, defend, attack, or otherwise discuss that work in public, either through standard academic means (journals, conferences) or through any other means (correspondences, blogs). MA and PhD theses at the U of T are all made public, and are all fair game for anyone, including students' supervisors, to discuss publicly.

I agree, by the way, that the Ontario legislature surely has more important business to attend to.

(An even smaller point: I'm always suspicious of academics who append the letters "PhD" when signing off.)

torontoprofessor, PhD

Le T Le T's picture

O'Sullivan isn't Peto's supervisor, she is the dean of OISE. It wasn't the thesis that the idiot from UBC wanted to discuss, it was if Peto should have been given a M.A. degree by OISE. That, at least in my non-PhD opinion, would have been a violation of Peto's privacy. It would be similar to publicly discussing if a prof should have received tenure vs. discussing the content of the same prof's published articles.

torontoprofessor

You're right, O'Sullivan is the dean, not Peto's supervisor. (This is what happens when I post on boards at 2 am!)

Anyway, Cohn's letter to O'Sullivan mentions only alleged features of the thesis itself, not of its defence or of any other private matter. The claims, for example, that a thesis is "devoid of scholarship" and that it "constitutes ... a piece hate literature" are legitimate, if petty, topics for public debate. That said, Cohn can't demand that O'Sullivan or anyone else debate this with him. I would simply have written, "Dear Professor Cohn, your concerns are noted. Best, ..."

This is no defence of Cohn! He can't seriously expect a dean to enter a protracted debate with him about an MA thesis. The completely unnecessary reliance on alleged privacy issues kinda bugged me. After all, O'Sullivan has no need to cite any concerns at all to Cohn: minimal professional courtesy only requires her to acknowledge his correspondence; there's no need to concoct justifications for not engaging in debate.

All of this publicity makes me want to read this thesis!

remind remind's picture

Seems like the brouhaha from the Zionist supporters over this, prove her thesis....they continue to claim they are victims.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Torontoprofessor, there is a link to the thesis at post #42 in this thread. With respect, I think you missed the point of the Dean's statement, didn't you? She was not saying that the disseration was above public scrutiny or criticism, but that she couldn't discuss "an individual student's academic work or his or her performance"; presumably meaning she couldn't discuss why or why Peto got her degree. As you know, the thesis and the acadmeic work leading to the degree are not synonymous. The thesis is just part of a larger program. I think this is what Dean O'Sullivan was alluding to.

That said, I agree with you. "Thanks for your concerns, Dr. Cohn. Ta for now!"

But privacy takes on another meaning in this whole broo-ha-ha. Peto, who wrote an MA thesis (how many Masters are awarded in Canada each year? Not to be elitist, but this is not "even" a PhD Dissertation--not "even" an published academic monograph) has now been publicly humilated and grilled for a passable paper in a small department in the education faculty. Look at the letter from her brother upthread! Published by a prominent NP blog (not, for example, in the letters pages). I think it makes sense for the Dean to appeal, if needlessly, belatedly and perhaps naively, to the student's right to privacy. Yes, the public has a "right" to scrutinize her paper, but look what that "right" has produced!

robbie_dee

Catchfire wrote:

I was thinking the same thing, Unionist, but it occurs to me that nobody (except for the ignorant equivalency argument at #8) supports the attack on academic freedom by the Ontario legislature (among others).

Since I didn't explicitly state my position in post #8 I will state it now. I think its a waste of its valuable time for the Ontario legislature to pass a resolution condemning someone's Master's thesis (which I would further note has nothing to say or do with Ontario law or policy) and I also think it is a waste of its valuable time for Toronto city council to pass a resolution condemning a Maclean's article (which again, further, had nothing specifically to do with Toronto). The intent of my post above was to point out that politicians of both the left and right are guilty of pandering to particular interest groups over issues that aren't really part of their job, rather than passing legislation and implementing policies as is supposed to be their job, if they think there's votes in the former and/or they are unwilling or unable to do the latter.

On the other hand, I think it is an exaggeration of what is going on now to escalate these incidents into a claim of "attack on academic freedom" or "attack on freedom of the press" because all of these issues are part of the public debate and members of legislative bodies have as much speech rights as anyone else, including the right to say asinine things. (If the legislature were to move to defund OISE or shutter Macleans that would be another thing).  In this case, its up to the voters to tell the politicians when they are being asinine or have misplaced their priorities.

Bubblenoodle

I just looked up the article on thestar.com . I am unable to view the 63 or so comments on the article. I hope this is just some sort of blip with my computer. Otherwise, I think we all should be seriously concerned about the comments section being blocked from being viewed.

The only other time I looked at the article was a day or so after it came out and you could tel by some of the comments that some were really concerned about the silencing of this student...now we can't even view the comments.

 

Tell me I'm missing something here.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

A link would be good. Maybe you don't know how to provide one since you're such a babble newbie. Is that so?

Unionist

[url=http://www.thestar.com/news/article/903408--minister-slams-student-thesi...'s the link[/url] - and bubblenoodle is correct. They've not only closed commenting (which is normal), they seem to have blocked view of all the comments (which is not).

 

trippie

The Toronto Star is being more selective about the comments section. There are way to many right wingers commenting there.

George Victor

FWIW : This has been one of the most informative threads posted in my three years here, marked by the knowledge and backgrounds of the posters, and the diligence of others in bringing the fundamental exchanges between academics to light.

The thread's relevancy, on matters of academic freedoms, extends, of course, into the larger public sphere.  Academics should not own the corner on freedoms...a thought that has remained with me since my own U of T days.  :)

Unionist

[url=http://thevarsity.ca/articles/39995]Who is Jenny Peto?[/url]

Exclusive interview in The Varsity.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Thx Unionist it was very informative. 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Thanks for the link, Unionist. Courage, Jenny!

Nice to see Dr. Cohn is spending his retirement trolling the comments section of a student paper. And where does a professor of dentistry get off criticizing a sociology paper?

Ripple
M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Should have gone with your first instinct.

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