Finance update: ConU President’s trip to Israel

A breakdown of Graham Carr’s university-funded expenses during 2022 trip

Graphic Adam Gibbard

In August 2022, Concordia President Graham Carr participated in a trip to Israel to visit Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv and build academic connections. Six months after the trip, The Link spoke to Palestinian students and Canadian academics about their reactions and to understand why Concordia decided to participate.

Since the article’s publication in February 2023, The Link has acquired new information about the trip via records provided by an access to information request. 

In total, the university spent nearly $9,000 to send its president on the trip to Israel. The money was spent on business class flights, luxury hotels and several activities on the itinerary. 

Carr left Montreal on Aug. 26, 2022, three days after his sit-down interview with The Link. He transferred to Toronto Pearson Airport and then took a direct flight to Tel Aviv. Sitting in a business class seat, Concordia spent $5,883 on airfare alone. That price doesn’t include the additional $75 for taxis to and from the airport. The president was also allowed a daily allowance of $52 while in Israel, which would come up to $364 for the week-long stay.

In addition, the university paid $2,500 to participate in the trip itself. The event was organized by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which took care of the trip’s itinerary and its collective organization. 

All 15 Canadian university presidents who attended the trip stayed at two five-star luxury hotels during their stay. Although the prices for the rooms were not listed in the document, Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem currently charges $580 per night for a studio room, which is the least premium of those rooms available. Carlton Hotel charges $385 per room for a “Superior City View Room.” Carr stayed eight nights split between the two hotels.

During his week-long stay in Israel, the president visited seven Israeli and two Palestinian universities. On Sept. 1, 2022,  Carr attended an “Israeli Politics 101” seminar and later in the day met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog. The itinerary also included several dinners, networking events, strolls around cities and leisurely activities like a “Lunch and Swim” at the Vert Hotel.

However, Concordia’s ties to Israel are deeply rooted. In 2011, Concordia received $5 million from the Azrieli Foundation for the creation of the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies at Concordia.

More recently, in January 2023, Concordia received $1 million courtesy of Miriam Roland, a former member of Concordia’s Board of Governors and honorary president and chair of the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal. The donation would be shared with Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in Israel. According to the Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights, BGU had strong connections with the Israeli military. According to their report, in 2018, the Israeli government allocated $15 million to BGU to accommodate thousands of active Israeli soldiers in technology-related subjects, as the Israeli Defence Forces continue to transfer its technology units to the Negev region, where the university is located.

Concordia has yet to make an official statement on the trip or speak directly to Palestinian students on campus.

This article originally appeared in Volume 44, Issue 4, published October 17, 2023.