The Lawfare Project (LP) announced that they have partnered with Toronto-based law firm RE-LAW LLP (RE-LAW), which represents Annette Poizner, a Canada-based social worker. With the support of The Lawfare Project, Ms. Poizner has issued a libel notice and cease-and-desist notice to a fellow practitioner regarding alleged antisemitic and defamatory emails sent to a large professional social work listserv.
Ms. Poizner, who was concerned by reports of antisemitism at several Canadian social work schools, undertook qualitative research and published accounts provided by respondents in an open-sourced article, “Exclusion, Isolation, and Rejection: Emerging Anecdotal Reports of Jews Studying Social Work. Preliminary Findings.” The article, which appeared in the peer-reviewed Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism, summarized that the social work curricula of five Canadian schools address various forms of hatred/oppression in the greatest of detail but consistently omit the study of antisemitism and include reports from several respondents that Zionism is, at times, vilified in courses or readings.
Recently, in an incident that parallels findings of Ms. Poizner’s ongoing research, another Ontario-based social worker circulated emails on the listserv of their professional association in which she stated that her referral network necessarily excludes Zionists. She accused Ms. Poizner of being a racist and harbouring anti-Arab sentiments because of her Zionist identity, and represented Ms. Poizner’s Zionism as supporting a genocidal ideology impacting her professional integrity and patient care.
David Elmaleh, a partner at RE-LAW, said: “We are dismayed that Ms. Poizner and other Jewish social workers have been expressly excluded from a colleague’s referral list on the basis of her Judaism, which encapsulates her Zionist values,” said David Elmaleh, one of RE-LAW’s founding partners and counsel to Ms. Poizner. “To suggest that our client espouses genocidal views because she believes in the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in its indigenous homeland is in our view plainly discriminatory and antisemitic. We look forward to assisting Ms. Poizner with her case, which we understand is emblematic of a much larger issue, given concerning reports of antisemitism in the social work field.”
The Lawfare Project encourages students and social workers contending with antisemitism within their courses, internships, or on the job to reach out to inquire about pro bono legal representation.
“Excluding or blacklisting Jewish individuals is unacceptable in any context, and all the more appalling when perpetrated by a healthcare professional against others in their field,” said Benjamin Ryberg, COO and director of research at The Lawfare Project. “We hope that the individual who sent these antisemitic and discriminatory emails will take steps to remedy the situation without the need for subsequent legal action.”