York University condemned the actions of one of its professors yesterday, saying material he handed out on campus targeted Jewish members of the school community. After a film presentation Thursday night sponsored by the student group Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, professor David Noble, who is Jewish, distributed material alleging that the York University Foundation is ''biased by the presence and influence of staunch pro-Israel lobbyists, activities and fundraising agencies.''
The foundation is the fundraising arm of the sprawling university, located in the north end of Toronto.
"York strongly condemns this highly offensive material, which singles out certain members of the York community on the basis of their ethnicity and alleged political views, including philanthropic volunteers who serve on the board of the York University Foundation," president Lorna Marsden said in a statement yesterday.
The material, entitled The York University Foundation: The Tail that Wags the Dog (Suggestions for Further Research), names members of the foundation's board of directors and their affiliation with Jewish groups.
Prof. Noble stood by his material yesterday. "Whenever you shed any light on anything, they point the flashlight somewhere else and want you to look there," he said.
The history professor said he went to the film presentation after seeing a flyer for it. He said he had had no intention of handing out material and distributed his flyer only for "information."
He said he was curious as to why the university was clamping down on campus protests and pro-Palestinian students were being disciplined. He said many members of the York University Foundation were pro-Israeli and have considerable influence on the school's administration.
"The administration of [York University] like every other university administration, is guided foremost by fundraising considerations," his material stated.
"I've been at York for 15 years and the suppression of speech and assembly is unprecedented," Prof. Noble said.
But Jewish group Hillel at York and Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights denounced the material in a joint statement with the university yesterday.
"We have absolutely no affiliation [with him]and don't endorse such material," Rabia Siddiqui, a spokeswoman for the SPHR, said in an interview. "Hate is not part of our mandate and we believe there's no place for this kind of activity within our forum, nor should there be any place for this on any other clubs within the campus or outside."
A spokeswoman at York said the incident doesn't fall under any existing codes of academic discipline.