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Barring Pro-Israel Group from Campus

Barring Pro-Israel Group from Campus

Anti-Israel activists no longer hide behind excuses to mask their discrimination. They’re singling out Israel in the open with little fear of repercussion.


On university campuses across North America, there is a concerted effort to demonize Israel, Zionism, and by extension, Jews. Sometimes the discrimination is subtle, and sometimes the discrimination is so evident that it screams out for an answer loud and clear.

As the Canadian Director for Hasbara Fellowships, a leading pro-Israel campus advocacy organization launched by Aish HaTorah in 2001, it’s my job to work with the top pro-Israel student leaders on campuses across Canada. The least enjoyable part of my job is when I come into contact with people who are anti-Israel.

Recently, during the week of March 7, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), located in Oshawa, Ontario, about an hour east of Toronto, was host to a “Social Justice Week.” Some of the programs during this week included events railing against capitalism, white privilege, and of course, ‘Israeli Apartheid.’

When the university’s Student Association put out a call asking external organizations to have a table on campus during the week and showcase their materials and initiatives for students to see, it seemed like a no-brainer to ask that Hasbara Fellowships to present our materials for Israel Peace Week, which occurred at the same time.

Our organization, which seemed “closely tied to the state of Israel,” would not be allowed to participate.

But the Student Association had other plans. In response to my query, I received an e-mail telling me that due to the recent passing of a BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) vote, our organization which seemed “closely tied to the state of Israel” would not be allowed to participate.

It’s hard to describe how I felt when I read that e-mail. Disappointment, sadness and anger, certainly. But also a certain degree of shock. It’s no secret that anti-Israel and even anti-Jewish discrimination is not a rare occurrence on North American university campuses, but to be informed in such a bold way that we weren’t welcome specifically because of our ties to Israel? That signifies a new and worrying trend. No longer do anti-Israel activists feel it necessary to hide behind excuses to mask their anti-Israel discrimination. Rather, singling out Israel can now be done out in the open, with little fear of repercussion.

Shortly after this incident, the National Post, one of Canada’s largest daily newspapers, covered the story and it became national news.

Since then, while I have since reached out to the university’s administration demanding a solution, the best silver lining is the kind that happens behind the scenes.

Hours after the National Post article was published, a Jewish student at UOIT read the article and reached out to me. We ended up speaking at length about the situation for Jewish students on campus, the outright hostility they face, and the incessant anti-Israel propaganda that is disseminated to impressionable young minds. We’ve already begun discussions about how to educate the undecided majority of students about Israel on that campus.

This student was incredibly appreciative; this was the first time that they had ever really felt supported on their campus. We are now planning to bring this student on our acclaimed Israel activism training program this summer. There is no doubt that things will be changing soon at that university.

While the story is still unfolding at UOIT, this could be a game-changer for anti-Israel activists on university campuses. Perhaps for the first time ever in Canada, student leadership at a publicly-funded university has openly and unabashedly discriminated against Israel.

The upcoming holiday of Purim teaches us a timeless message: that no matter how dark and hopeless a situation may be, in the end Israel and the Jewish people’s right to safety and to self-determination will win the day.

March 15, 2016

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 11

(5) Nancy, March 18, 2016 9:37 PM

What the heck is wrong with people??

Unlike other counties in the middle east, Israel is a democracy. Have people forgotten this fact? Arabs serve in the Knesset, but I guess that has been overlooked as well. Now, I might not agree with every single word Netanyahu utters. Are all Israelis perfect individuals? I certainly am not a perfect person, so I would speculate that we are all doing the best we can. In Israel's case that is pretty darn good! With that said, I still recognize Israel for the great country it is.

(4) Rebecca, March 16, 2016 2:31 AM

What I find most disconcerting...

While I find anti-semitism and anti-Israel very disturbing, I'm finding that even more disturbing is how thoughtlessly and readily people buy into the lies about Israel. Obviously these two things aren't really separable, but the alarming rate at which supposedly educated people soak up lies with not an ounce of critical thinking is much more frightening. When this sort of thing happens en masse, we find ourselves at risk for danger on a much broader scale. It was this sort of thinking that fueled hatred on the scale required to implement the holocaust, both in getting individual people to do the killing and in getting society at large to allow it. Lies are not just immaterial things. They lead to discrimination, oppression and murder. Truth is stronger than evil and in the end will win. But it it is still necessary for us to speak the truth and actively combat lies if we are to avoid the terrible if temporary victories of evil in the meantime.

(3) Mike, March 16, 2016 1:16 AM

Fight fire with fire.

If you want to turn things around on a leftist, just do to them what they do to you. Denouncing them publicly as racists is a nasty taste of their own medicine which they can't stand. Getting media involved, exposing specific haters to public humiliation and putting pressure on college officials. Next, start plastering pictures of well know Arab terrorists around campus with their own statements of hatred towards Jews and Americans. Throw in some doctored pictures of school officials showing them as Nazis. Send large numbers of students into student association meetings to shout them down and disrupt their meetings. Take over the administration building and chain yourselves together. Sounds extreme but that is what these left wing haters do all the time. If you want to beat these leftist thugs you will have to adopt some of their tactics.

(2) Anny Matar, March 15, 2016 5:32 PM

Hat off!! Chapeau!!! about time too!!!

What happens in the USA, Canada and the whole world against Israel is nothing new but, the time has come that Jewish Unions should combat that we don't want to live and see a Germany of the 1930s.

(1) Joshua Duree, March 15, 2016 11:46 AM

Get a grip.

No one is being anti semetic it's anti occupation. I dont agree with America's supposed war on terror, does this make me anti christian? If you want to drum up support for Israel being the victim stop forcing innocent palestinians from their homes, stop ethnic cleasing and stop trying to blatantly hide what your doing and blame the other side cause 'they don't like jews'. People aren't listening to your news anymore cause they see it for what it is the fact how right wing israel has become and banning reporters from showing the full story. America will probably withdraw it's aid soon and the whole place will collapse as it isn't being propped up by handouts. Don't dare use call me antisemetic as I am not a self hating Jew. Down with Israel the dream of the Khazars not the Jews.

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