Concordia Receives Donation for Israeli Studies Institute

This article was mistakenly posted in the News section originally. The Link regrets the error.

When Concordia University’s faculty council voted to create the Azrieli Institute of Israeli Studies on May 17, they effectively strengthened links between the university and Israel, a state in constant breach of international law.

The Arts and Science Faculty Council voted on a motion to create the institute after the Azrieli Foundation promised an endowment that shells out $400,000 yearly.

While rumours put the endowment at $5 million, it was confirmed during council that it was the single largest donation faculty has ever received. Over $100,000 yearly would go towards fellowships and conference funding—an important factor for the council to consider when deciding whether or not to vote in favour of the motion.

Professor Eric Shragge raised concerns about the openness and possibility of critical debate within the institute. A letter from the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, a Concordia college dedicated to feminism and social justice issues, discussed similar points.

Despite this and some other concerns over governance, the motion passed with an overwhelming majority. Only three members voted against out of the approximately 30 who were present.

Passing the motion at the council was a significant first step toward establishing the institute. In addition to providing funding for research in any field relating to Israel, supporting academic exchange, and arranging for visiting professorships, the institute plans to create a minor in Israeli Studies. If the minor is created, however, the program will require approval from the University’s senate.

This begs the question: why does the creation of a minor require Senate approval, while the creation of an institute does not?

Rushdia Mehreen is a graduate student at Concordia and a member of Arts and Science Faculty Council. She is also a social justice activist.