The Hasbara Campus Blog
Feb 1, 2016
Pro-Israel student leaders across Canada are getting a lot of attention these days, after noted philanthropist Paul Bronfman delivered an ultimatum to York University, saying that his donations to the school would be cut unless they removed an anti-Israel mural in the University Student Centre. At this point, while the deadline has passed and the mural still stands, York University has unfortunately chosen to keep the mural standing.
However, a tremendous impact came as a result of Mr. Bronfman’s actions, jumpstarted by our friend Avi Benlolo at Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre (FSWC): now, more so than in a long time, the wider pro-Israel community is taking notice of the real situation on campus for pro-Israel and Jewish students, both with respect to the anti-Israel mural at York University, other issues at York, and across Canada.
Thanks to the attention now paid on the mural, more pro-Israel community members are having a serious discussion about the extent and influence of anti-Israel forces on many university campuses, whether it be their wide access to student government on various campuses, intimidation, frequently anti-Israel articles in student newspapers, leadership in various student clubs, and more.
On many campuses across the country, pro-Israel students face a well-financed juggernaut of anti-Israel groups whose sole focus is to demonize Israel, and frequently done so in a dishonest way. On other campuses, the situation is quieter, but still many students, after years of conflict, are simply disinterested and apathetic. Those students are the ones we need to reach out to and show what Israel truly is.
But we haven’t been silent, nor reactive. Our Hasbara Fellows have successfully built pro-Israel social media campaigns, engaged with student governments, reached out to campus newspapers, built sustainable relationships with non-Jewish students, and ran highly successful events on campus, in order to counteract both the hate speech and the apathy rampant on campuses, and more importantly, to set a positive, proactive tone for the wider student body to experience.
And for a long time, this was all behind the scenes. But thanks to a public statement from Mr. Bronfman, more attention is being paid to what’s really happening on campus – the good, the bad and the ugly – and for that, we are grateful.
We, the undersigned, a selection of Hasbara Fellows from universities across Canada, want to both thank Mr. Bronfman for taking a stance, and also to take this opportunity to highlight the nature of campus for many Jewish and pro-Israel students across Canada.
Since 2001, Hasbara Fellowships, a grassroots pro-Israel campus advocacy organization jointly founded by the Israel Foreign Ministry and Aish International, selects the top pro-Israel campus leaders and brings them to Israel for intensive activism training, and works with them to offer resources, guidance, and empowerment so that they can be ambassadors for Israel on campus.
Robert Walker, Canadian Director, Hasbara Fellowships
Jake Birrell, Hasbara Fellow (Mt. Royal University)
Ari Blaff, Hasbara Fellow (Western University)
Alexandra Brenner, Hasbara Fellow (Carleton University)
Kelly Bryant, Hasbara Fellow (Carleton University)
Ariella Daniels, Hasbara Fellow (York University)
Liora Domb, Hasbara Fellow (York University)
Sapir Fellus, Hasbara Fellow (University of Ottawa)
Shane Hamilton, Hasbara Fellow (University of Calgary)
Leora Karon, Hasbara Fellow (York University)
Esti Kass, Hasbara Fellow (York University)
Chaim Katz, Hasbara Fellow (University of Toronto)
Leah Khodak, Hasbara Fellow (York University)
Rebecca Khodak, Hasbara Fellow (Ryerson University)
Tamar Lyons, Hasbara Fellow (Ryerson University)
Ruben Perez, Hasbara Fellow (Concordia University)
Dan Poliwoda, Hasbara Fellow (Western University)
Adi Rittenberg, Hasbara Fellow (Queen’s University)
Yael Shneiderman, Hasbara Fellow (York University)
Rena Silver, Hasbara Fellow (York University)
Rebecca Starkman, Hasbara Fellow (Western University)
For more information, contact Robert Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org
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