Canada loses Professor David Franklin Noble at age 65

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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With great sadness and deepest sorrow, we received the news of the passing away of Professor David Franklin Noble (July 22, 1945 – December 27, 2010).

Professor Noble was a critical historian of technology, science and education; a relentless crusader against the commercialization of higher education; a passionate champion of academic freedom; and a staunch opponent of discrimination. He last taught in the Division of Social Science, and the department of Social and Political Thought at York University in Toronto.

Professor Noble was an anti-Zionist Jew and a member of Independent Jewish Voices. In his critique of what he views as an academic-industrial system, Professor Noble has questioned Israel’s strategic role in Western institutions on a broad basis.

In late November 2004, Professor Noble handed out a flyer to his class enitled "The York University Foundation: The Tail That Wags the Dog" proposing that there was a connection between pro-Israeli influence on the York Foundation and the university administration’s treatment of vocal pro-Palestinian students on campus.

He later launched a $25 million libel suit at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against York University, Jewish, and Israeli organizations for defamation and conspiracy, accusing them of having improperly criticized his flyer as antisemitic.

In April 2006 Professor Noble lodged a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), stating that cancellation of classes during certain Jewish holidays constituted discrimination against non-Jewish students. OHRC investigation found York’s practice discriminatory and, before the issue made it to the Tribunal, York University agreed to stop the practice, starting in September 2009.

Throughout his life, whether at the personal or professional/academic level, Professor Noble was the embodiment of intellectual honesty, courage, and decency. Canada lost a truly noble person, both in Name and in the essence of his character.

“Oh heart, if one should say to you that the soul perishes like the body, answer that the flower withers, but the seed remains.” Kahlil Gibran

We at the Canadian Arab Federation, Palestine House, Islamic Society of York Region and Canadian Shia Muslims Organization extend our deepest sympathy to his wife Sarah, his three children and his two brothers, and stand with them during this difficult period.

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1 Comment

  1. This is a wonderful article about my Uncle. His family knew him as an honest, upstanding, gentle and kind-hearted soul. I greatly appreciate the sentiment in this article. However, there is one omission that needs to be rectified. Davcomment_ID Noble also has a sister, Jane Pafford, whom he was very close to – a sister who is also grieving deeply for the brother she has lost.

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