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.