The Hasbara Campus Blog
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.
By: Sydney Silbert, University of Idaho, Hasbara Fellow
Want to learn what BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) really means for Ontario? Hear from students on the front lines.
On Thursday, December 1, Gila Martow, Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Thornhill, will be presenting a motion in the Ontario Legislature that states that Ontario rejects the ideals and mission of the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) movement.
Across Canada, BDS is a movement that is particularly active on university and college campuses. Read below to see the testimonials of a selection of Hasbara Fellowships students as they state exactly what BDS means on campus. Please feel free to share these students' testimonials with your elected representative so they can see what BDS means to students on campus. Hasbara Fellowships Canada joins our partner organizations in speaking out in support of this motion and in opposition to BDS in Ontario.
If you wish to contact your MPP, click HERE.
BDS was passed on my Campus at York University before I even got there. I can only imagine how things would've been different if it had not been passed, but my reality is an unnerving one. As a Jewish student I fear revealing my identity in classes and socially. I worry I will be treated unfairly by professors who espouse anti-Israel rhetoric whether relevant or not. I am discriminated against in progressive circles for who I am and for believing the Jewish people have a right to their ancestral homeland. BDS is a hate movement, and it affects me personally.
BDS hurts students' social life on campus, their academics and the overall school environment. School is about learning to build bridges, help one another learn and graduate and help create a positive and active social environment. With BDS, students are prevented from doing so. It is focused on fighting the "other" based on their differences in nationality, ethnicity and religion, creating a hostile campus environment for students to be at.
University of Guelph-Humber
BDS is a movement that demonizes Israelis, supporters of the State, and creates tensions & divisiveness among communities (be it academic, or otherwise). It is usually detrimental to Palestinians too - the very people SPHR/SJP believes they are supporting (i.e. Sodastream shutting down a factory in Judean Samaria, and 600 Palestinians losing their jobs). BDS limits everyone's opportunities to work with Israeli products/technology and Israeli academics. As Canadians, we should continue to honour our relationship with the one true democracy in the Middle East. Having an open conversation about concerns within the region is valid, as it is important that we can be critical about leadership on both sides, but demonizing an entire people is the opposite action we should exercise.
As a student, I attend university in hopes of gaining knowledge and learning truths about the world. BDS is not only a group that is against one side in a two side battle, BDS contradicts the very principles of an educational institution by warping history and creating their own truths. School should be a place where one goes to learn the truth, not where truths get created.
George Brown College
BDS presents a dangerous single story to the student body by virtue of it systematically shutting down dialogue and debate. It has given legitimacy and a “green-light” to closeted Anti-Semites on university campuses to attack the Jewish People indirectly, by means of belittling and encouraging animosity against Israel. With every protest and event championing the BDS movement, the more blinded our fellow-students and faculty members become. In the current times, we live in today, with conflicts ongoing and the build-up of animosity being pitted against the Western World, it has gained the attention and support of anti-Israel entities on campus. This ongoing coalition has the intent of intimidating and silencing those who dissent and question. In the end, those who truly support a peaceful middle-east will have to face the consequences of BDS head on, and as students, we implore our figures of authority to take a concerted effort in gaining insight into the history of the ideology which birthed BDS and has inspired violence.
I was a student at McMaster University when BDS passed. The campaign was detrimental to my and many other students’ well being. We were afraid to go through the Student Centre for the month-long campaign. There were false graphic images depicting violence in Israel, there were mock Israeli soldiers that went around harassing students, I know several students who were harassed for their Judaism and support of Israel. The holocaust was belittled and equivocated to the situation in Gaza. Israel was demonized. By passing BDS the student body sent a message to Jews and pro-Israel students that they were unwanted on campus. It made me and many others feel unsafe.
The anti-Israel BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) movement has been dealt another blow at the University of Toronto. The Graduate Students Union of the University of Toronto’s General Council rejected with a 34-17 vote (and 11 abstentions) a plan to make the BDS ad-hoc committee a formal part of the graduate student organization.
Hasbara Fellows Chaim Katz and Ari Blaff, along with graduate students Kyra Morris and Aidan Fishman helped defeat the vote.
“This is just the first of many steps to pushing back against anti-Israel discrimination on campus,” Ariella Daniels, Hasbara Fellowships Canada Campus Advisor, said. “Defeating a BDS referendum, or preventing the encroachment of BDS, is a critical first step, and even more importantly, we are working with our incredible Hasbara Fellows to proactively be ambassadors for Israel so we, and not our opponents, can set the agenda.”
The University of Toronto has seen anti-Israel sentiment not just with BDS, but in the classroom as well.
Robert Walker, National Director for Hasbara Fellowships Canada, lauded the vote. “This is yet more proof that the anti-Israel movement on campuses is losing steam, with more students seeing that universities should be places of higher learning, not blind hate.”
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