The Institute hosted two events at Tel Aviv University’s recent Board of Governors meeting: a plaque ceremony marking the Institute’s official dedication and the first forum hosted by the Institute. 

The plaque ceremony honored key donors of the Institute, and was attended by donors and Friends of TAU from Canada, the Hon. Irwin Cotler, Dafna Meitar (Head of the TAU Board of Governors), and Prof. Rachel Cinamon Gali (Dean, Faculty of Humanties), as well as the 2023-2024 fellows of the Irwin Cotler Institute’s flagship fellowship program. Those in attendance heard from two current fellows, Dacha Azelmad (Morocco) and Veronica Pana Igube (Nigeria), who shared the transformative and deeply insightful experiences they have had through the fellowship program. Additionally, the Hon. Irwin Cotler spoke about the institute’s mission, its remarkable progress over the past two years and its future directions, expressing gratitude to the donors for their support in making this possible. Following this, the official plaque of the Irwin Cotler Institute was unveiled in the Gilman Building at Tel Aviv University.

Alongside the plaque ceremony, the Institute inaugurated the Irwin Cotler Institute Forum at the 2024 Tel Aviv University Board of Governors. This year’s forum focused on the subject of “Democracy, Antisemitism, and the Assault on Human Rights.” 

The Hon. Rosalie Sliberman Abella (Samuel and Judith Pisar Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School; Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada) spoke passionately and urgently about the rise of international human rights law following the Holocaust, and the need, now more than ever, to return to the legal and moral principles that arose out of the horrors of the Second World War. Expressing concern over a world increasingly tolerant of intolerable acts in the name of moral relativism and political pragmatism, Abella called for a serious reassessment of our current global institutions, particularly the United Nations. She emphasized the need for stronger mechanisms to protect human rights and prevent abuses, underscoring the importance of learning from the lessons of the horrors of the 20th century.

Afterward, a panel discussion ensued, during which Prof. Milette Shamir (Vice President of TAU) addressed college campuses as contemporary epicenters reflecting the tolerance of intolerance. Shamir expressed concerns regarding the future of Israeli academia amidst the increasing prevalence of antisemitism and academic boycotts targeting Israeli scholars. However, she underscored the significance of proactive measures, particularly emphasizing efforts in coalition building and establishing a network of allies for TAU. 

The Hon. Irwin Cotler also reflected on the theme of tolerating the intolerable, highlighting how the mass atrocities of October 7, which one would expect should have led to a mitigation of antisemitism, actually have led to an explosion of it. He gave useful insight on how to understand this troubling phenomena as a manifestation of antisemitism, which sees the Jew (and in today’s world, Israel) as the enemy of all that is good and the embodiment of all that is evil.