The Hasbara Campus Blog
Hasbara Fellowships Canada's Legal Task Force Secures Significant Achievement for Pro-Israel Students on Canadian Campuses
In a significant victory for Jewish and pro-Israel students across Canada, Hasbara Fellowships Canada, the country’s largest pro-Israel campus advocacy organization, is proud to announce that the Student Association of Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (SADCUOIT) has settled a legal case that Hasbara Fellowships Canada had filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) last summer.
In March, 2016, Hasbara Fellowships Canada’s National Director Robert Walker was informed by email that he could not participate in the Student Association’s Social Justice Week because Hasbara Fellowships was “connected to the State of Israel.” Soon after, the president of the Student Association told a local newspaper that banning Hasbara Fellowships Canada from campus was similar to preventing KKK from participating in a Black Lives Matter event, and the Student Association, in a press release, stated that Hasbara Fellowships Canada's mandate was to "promote policies that contributes to the colonization of Indigenous Peoples..."
In July, 2016, Hasbara Fellowships Canada filed a Human Rights complaint with the the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, seeking, among other details, $50,000 in damages, an invitation back to campus, and a formal apology, stating that discrimination had occurred. It was the first time in recent memory that a Jewish organization in Canada took legal action in response to issues on a university campus.
Today, while the full details of this settlement are confidential, Hasbara Fellowships Canada is very satisfied with the resolution. Hasbara Fellowships also applauds the Student Association for their public statement and press release on the matter, which includes the statement: "The Student Association (SA) sincerely apologizes to Mr. Walker and Hasbara" and that the SA "rejects discrimination of any kind, including against Israeli students." Furthermore, their release reads: "We welcome Mr. Walker and Hasbara's participation at a future multicultural event on campus."
“What an incredible difference a year makes,” Hasbara Fellowships Canada National Director Robert Walker said in a statement. “One year ago, we were banned from Social Justice Week for being 'connected to the State of Israel,' and today the Student Association has apologized, is welcoming us back to campus, and have affirmed that they reject "discrimination of any kind, including against Israeli students or community members."
Following Hasbara Fellowships Canada’s public education campaign in the wake of the March, 2016 incident, the administration of UOIT became the first university in Ontario topublicly state that they "do not support a boycott, divestment or sanctions against Israel."
Anti-Israel events aren't rare but a recent event at the University of Toronto's education school, OISE, veered from misinformation into the repeated and purposeful whitewashing of terrorism against innocent Israelis and glorifying Palestinian prisoners, many of whom have committed murder.
Hasbara Fellowships Canada worked with one of our students, who recorded and documented the proceedings. The event, "Criminalizing Resistance," was "in honour of Palestinian Prisoners Day," according to promotional literature.
Multiple speakers and printed materials made reference to all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons as 'political prisoners,' which purposefully ignores the very real violent terrorists currently in Israeli custody, perhaps most infamously Marwan Barghouti, a convicted murderer.
Hasbara Fellowships Canada has contacted the Dean of OISE with a legal letter outlining their responsibilities to ensure a safe environment for all students, and continue to be in close contact with our Hasbara Fellows at the University of Toronto as well as our John & Rose Ziner Memorial Legal Task Force.
According to Amanda Leah Jackson, a Hasbara student at OISE, said: "OISE is the education department of the University of Toronto, and it is both outrageous and highly ironic for them to host an event based on lies and misinformation. I expect the administration to take serious steps in this matter."
To sign a petition demanding the Dean of OISE take serious steps to ensure such propaganda has no place on campus, click HERE.
Hasbara Fellowships Canada
In 2005, the University of Toronto was home to the founding of Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual anti-Israel hate-fest. More than a decade later, the propaganda has continued unabated and this year is no exception.
Hasbara Fellowships Canada, the country’s largest pro-Israel campus advocacy organization, has recently received student complaints that Dr. June Larkin, a professor at the university's Equity Studies program, has exploited her position to promote Israeli Apartheid Week programming to faculty and students through a widely-circulated department e-mail list. In response, Hasbara Fellowships Canada has lodged a complaint with the proper authorities in the department, and requested they conduct an immediate investigation into this matter.
According to one of the professor's students who requested anonymity:
"As a Jewish, pro-Israel student, I am intimidated and fearful of expressing my political opinions and support for the Jewish State when my professor openly advocates against my homeland. This conduct further reminds me that the promise of an inclusive campus does not extend to supporters of Israel."
Robert Walker, National Director of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, said: Universities are meant for challenging opinions and open discourse, but when a professor uses their position to promote this hateful and dangerous cause, they are not acting in the best interests of the campus community.
The University of Toronto was recently ranked 3rd worst university in North America for Jewish students by The Algemeiner, which reported that one regularly finds "orchestrated, organized anti-Israel programs and initiatives" at the University of Toronto, as "part of a larger, insidious project meant to demonize Israel on one of Canada's most prestigious campuses."
For more information, contact:
Hasbara Fellowships Canada
Hasbara Fellowships Canada is welcoming the resignation of Igor Sadikov, the member of the Students' Society of McGill University (SSMU) Board of Directors whose anti-Israel post on social media caused worldwide attention.
Sadikov, a representative from the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS), distributed a statement on February 23 announcing his resignation.
The move comes less than a week after the SSMU, after initially refusing to call for his ouster, finally did so. Hasbara Fellowships Canada had worked closely with student leaders and key stakeholders, as well as working with top legal experts.
"When it comes to calling for violence against Jews and Israelis, there must be zero tolerance," according to Hasbara Fellowships Canada's National Director. "This is a lesson that free speech and expression is no defense for spewing hatred."
Sadikov remains on the board of the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS), but a hearing is scheduled for early March to determine his future there.
For more information:
Hasbara Fellowships Canada
Hasbara Fellowships Canada is gearing up for its fourth annual one-day Israel advocacy training workshop, during which hundreds of community members and students can connect with pro-Israel leaders.
“This is Canada’s biggest Israel advocacy training workshop or conference,” said Robert Walker, Hasbara Fellowships’ Canadian director.
“It brings hundreds of people from all walks of life – Jews, non-Jews, students, adults, community members, people who are more involved, novices, experts – and we connect them with 15 to 20 speakers throughout the day.”
Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar will be the keynote speaker at the event, which will be held at Toronto’s Village Shul on Feb. 26.
Kedar, a lecturer on Arabic and Islamic studies at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, is expected to speak about Islamic extremism in Europe and the potential for North America to be affected by it, in a talk titled “The Immigration of Jew Hatred – The European Case.”
Kedar, an Arabic-speaker who served as a lieutenant-colonel in the Israeli Defence Forces’ intelligence branch, “made his fame through his Arabic language debates on Jerusalem, on Al Jazeera,” Walker explained.
Other speakers include Ryan Bellerose, an aboriginal rights activist and an outspoken supporter of Israel who co-founded a group called Calgary United with Israel.
Bellerose, who represents B’nai Brith Canada as its advocacy co-ordinator for Western Canada, will be speaking about the “effective use of the indigenous rights argument in Israel advocacy.”
Sohail Raza, vice-president of the Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations and an executive member of Muslims Facing Tomorrow, a non-profit “think-tank for all Muslims to be an integral part of Canada’s liberal democracy,” will speak from the perspective of a self-proclaimed Muslim Zionist.
“We also have Jeff Ansel, a public relations consultant who is going to be doing a presentation on public speaking skills,” Walker said.
Sarah Zeldman, an expert on social media management and online marketing, will lecture about how to advocate for Israel online.
In addition to lectures by community leaders, the conference will also include panel discussions that explore subjects including the real situation on campus today, what U.S. President Donald Trump means for Israel, and how to showcase Israel’s achievements.
“We also have a panel of parents whose children fought in the Israeli army, who’ll talk about how to inspire children to care about Israel and the Jewish People,” Walker said.
Although Hasbara Fellowships is a campus organization, Walker felt it was important to create an event that is geared towards anyone who is interested in the subject matter.
“We want to make sure that everyone who wants to get involved, learn something or just get inspired, will have the opportunity to do so,” he said.
“Our focus, as a campus organization, is students, but occasionally, we want to make sure that people who are not students also have the same opportunities that students have,” he said, adding that last year, about 300 people took part in the event, and about a third of the gathering was students, while the rest were members of the wider community.
Although admission for students is free, they must register at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets for the conference, which includes a light dinner, cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door and can be purchased here: bit.ly/israelday2017.
Hasbara Fellowships Canada, the country's largest pro-Israel campus advocacy organization, today applauded a move by the Students' Society of McGill University (SSMU) for calling on Igor Sadikov, the representative whose recent social media post to "punch a Zionist today" garnered international attention.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Hasbara Fellowships Canada's legal team sent a legal letter, warning the SSMU of legal consequences of inaction, and demanding they call for Mr. Sadikov's resignation, as well as working with our students to file a police complaint and working with key university stakeholders.
According to an e-mail from the SSMU Executive Committee, "Councillor Sadikov’s actions were an incitement of violence and, for that reason alone, we have recommended that he resign from his position as a Director and as an Arts Representative to the Legislative Council." This wording mimics Hasbara Fellowships Canada's legal letter, which stated that Mr. Sadikov's words "constituted incitement to violence."
Robert Walker, National Director for Hasbara Fellowships Canada, said: "In the wake of the absolutely unacceptable post and lack of remorse from Mr. Sadikov, it was critical that the SSMU take corrective action, and by demanding his resignation, they are ackowledging the seriousness of what took place, as we expect them to continue to do."
Hasbara Fellowships Legal Task Force Demands Resignation of McGill Student Government Representative
President, Students' Society of McGill University
3600 rue McTavish, Suite 1200
Montreal, QC H3A 0G3
Dear Mr. Ger:
We write to you on behalf of concerned McGill University students who are shocked and unsettled by the recent reported events on your campus.
As you may know, the majority of Jewish students across Canada have a deep love for and connection to their ancestral homeland: the State of Israel. Further, these students have come to learn all too well that antisemitic sentiment is increasingly cloaked in anti-Zionist rhetoric on university campuses.
The reported online conduct of anti-Israel agitator and disgraced representative from the Arts Undergraduate Society to the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), Igor Sadikov, has sent shockwaves through the Jewish and pro-Israel student community. Sadikov’s reported tweet, “Punch a Zionist today” and subsequent comments have raised serious concerns about the safety, security and well-being of Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus and has served as a stark reminder that the promise of an inclusive academic environment largely does not extend to supporters of the Jewish State. We have also received recent reports that a Jewish member of the Legislative Council was threatened with impeachment for her support of the Jewish State and that the SSMU leadership responded with silence.
This conduct is unacceptable and SSMU’s failure to meaningfully respond to its constituents’ concerns raises serious questions about its stated commitment to inclusivity. To this end, we draw your attention to the provisions of SSMU’s Constitution, which requires SSMU to perform its duties without discrimination on the basis of, among others, race, national or ethnic origin or religion. Further, we bring your attention to Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, which also prohibits discrimination and harassment on such grounds.
Our view is that SSMU, as the official representative body of McGill University students, has a duty to investigate these matters immediately and to take concrete, substantive steps to ensure the safety, security and well-being of all students at McGill University.
Hasbara Fellowships Canada
Hasbara Fellowships Canada is the country’s largest pro-Israel campus advocacy organization, founded in 2001. It assists students in telling the truth about Israel on universities and colleges across the country, as well as providing resources to help combat anti-Israel propaganda.