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UBC doctor's resignation latest sign of campus conflict over Israel-Hamas war


The University of British Columbia is pledging to make changes in the wake of allegations of antisemitism and workplace toxicity that prompted a respected faculty member to resign as tensions in the faculty of medicine escalate and the Israel-Hamas war drags on.

Dr. Ted Rosenberg, a geriatrician in Victoria who spent 30 years as a clinical professor at the school, penned his resignation letter after multiple correspondences between top university officials and pro-Palestinian as well as Jewish medical personnel.

“One-third of the medical students and some faculty have publicly expressed their contempt towards me, as a Jew,” he wrote to the dean of the faculty, ccing the president of the university.

“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.”

The petition was signed by more than 200 medical residents at UBC and sent to the dean and president in November, urging the school to make a strong public statement advocating for a humanitarian ceasefire. The student who organized the petition claims it’s a draft copy now circulating in Vancouver's medical community.

CTV News has obtained the document, which does "not condone the actions of Hamas in attacking Israeli citizens and taking hostages" and voices solidarity for Palestinians they describe as "continually abused, traumatized and killed by the settler state of Israel."

That kind of language upset the city’s Jewish medical professionals and students, nearly 300 of whom signed their own letter addressed to UBC, slamming the “contentious language” in the petition and “the complete lack of action after Jewish students have shared experiences of antisemitism and intimidation has, in fact, made them feel less safe and protected on campus and in our learning hospitals.”

Sources in the local medical community described the university’s written response to CTV News as lacklustre, and Rosenberg said it led to his resignation. Those speaking up in support of the Palestinian people fear professional repercussions if they’re associated with the petition, while Jewish medical professionals and students worry about harassment and their personal safety.

In an email statement to CTV News, senior director of media relations Kurt Heinrich referenced the university’s discrimination policy and a November statement by the president.

“The faculty of medicine and the University of British Columbia have been very clear that antisemitism, or discrimination of any kind, is completely unacceptable,” wrote Heinrich. “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.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Rosenberg told CTV News that he’d heard from the faculty’s executive director of the office of respectful environments, equity, diversity and inclusion, with a promise that made him optimistic about next steps, though he was not retracting his resignation.

“Over-simplistic, ahistorical demonising narratives and rhetoric, by either side, will do nothing to deepen our empathy, understanding, respect or trust of one another, nor hasten a resolution of this crisis,” he wrote to the dean. “I lament the carnage and deaths of both Israeli and Palestinian civilians during this horrific war and this seemingly insoluble and interminable complex tragedy.” Top Stories

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