Finally we have young Jewish leaders who are fearless and courageous and will not remain silent like too many leaders in the Jewish community who still hold on to that old ‘shtetl’ mentality.
Robert Walker, national director of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, is taking on all universities and colleges who participate in and promote Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) by targeting one such place of “higher” education: the University of Ontario Institute Of Technology in Oshawa, Ontario and its affiliate, Durham College. He is also taking the Student Association & Faculty Association of the University of Ontario Institute Of Technology (UOIT) to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
Walker told me, “Jewish and Israeli students can look at this action and feel confident that when they face open discrimination on Canadian campuses, we will be there to support them and that we will use every resource available to fight for Jewish and Israeli students.”
This is a milestone for many reasons. But one of the most important is that finally we have young Jewish leaders who are fearless and courageous and will not remain silent like too many leaders in the Jewish community who still hold on to that old shtetl mentality.
In Canada. our Liberal government has told us over and over that discrimination will not be tolerated in our diverse and tolerant, inclusive and accommodating country. The same has been said in the province of Ontario, where this precedent-setting action is taking place. We must win this action so that the Jewish students around the world will know that hate toward Jews for being Jewish and hate toward Israelis for beings Israeli will not be countenanced.
For those unfamiliar with Canada’s Human Rights Tribunals, anyone who feels they have been discriminated against can turn to these Tribunals for recourse. There are 20 categories. Mr. Walker is going to the tribunal alleging discrimination on the basis of ancestry, place of origin, citizenship, ethnic origin, creed, association with a person identified by a ground listed above.
On February 26, 2016, Hasbara was invited by Denise Martins, the executive assistant to the Faculty Association, to participate in an information fair during Social Justice Week March 7. Mr. Walker sent in all the information required and heard back on March 3, just four days before the event, that Hasbara Fellowships Canada was not welcome. The Student Association (SA) had voted for BDS and because Hasbara was somehow associated with Israel, the request was being denied. Jesse Cullen the President of the SA at the time compared AISH, the organization with which Hasbara is associated, to the KKK.
Israel and the Jewish community have been under constant attack. BDS is the largest organization working today to destroy Israel. They are not encouraging peaceful discussion or even pretend any longer – if ever – that they want a two-state solution. Yet, too many in the non-Jewish world (and far too many Jews) choose to believe that it is Israel standing in the way of peace. This despite the fact that the leaders of the BDS movement have clearly stated that they do not want Israel to exist and that any attempt to “normalize “relations with Israel must be stopped in its tracks.
Is the student association of the University of Technology in Oshawa and Durham College (SADCUOIT) aware of this? Is the Faculty (FAUOIT) aware of this? Ignorance is no excuse for their bigoted, anti-Semitic attacks on free speech and the freedom to assemble.
The Truth about BDS
Here are the facts about the BDS campaign straight from the horses’ mouths.
The movement is demanding that “all contact between Palestinians and Israelis be severed, lest they “normalize” the existence of Israel.”
BDS leader Omar Barghouti “lamented that the Palestinian Authority, as well as other Arab states, were not toeing the line against Israel: ‘If official Palestinian normalization had not reached this level, nobody would have dared to host Israeli delegations in Saudi Arabia, sports delegations in Qatar, trade delegations in the UAE, and delegations in Bahrain, Morocco and so on. Official Arab normalization has reached critical proportions.’”
In his 2007 One-State Declaration, Barghouti wrote: “The two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is really dead. Good riddance! We are witnessing the rapid demise of Zionism and nothing can be done to save it. I, for one, support euthanasia.” We hear this tune all the time, especially from the ayatollahs of Iran, now flush with billions of dollars from President Obama.
Omar Barghouti, a graduate of Tel Aviv University, the man behind the attacks on Israel, received his education in the country he calls apartheid. How was that possible that this Arab got his education in that apartheid country? Because for those of you who do not understand, Israel is not an apartheid country!
The official policy of the BDS movement in the USA is “anti-normalization” with Israel. So out of one side of their mouths is the condemnation of Israel for not being at the table and out of the other side is their refusal to talk of peace-of normalization of any kind. The manifesto of New York City Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) states, “We reject any and all collaboration, dialogue and coalition work with Zionist organizations through a strict policy of anti-normalization and encourage our comrades in other organizations to do the same.” BDS activists crash faculty meetings to demand “Zionists off campus.” This is Free Speech on campus today!
This Action ‘Must Be Won’
And that brings me back to the brave action taken by Robert Walker and Hasbara Fellowships (of which I am a proud board member). This action against the Faculty and Student Association must be won because it is not just against one place of higher learning, but all. This is the most important precedent setting action we have ever taken-we, as in all the Jewish people in Canada for the Hebrew nation.
The suit is requesting $50,000 in reparations. It is the “amount (that) represents reasonable damages for breach of the Code and blatant and unabashed discrimination that was instigated and maintained by the respondents that was directed against me.” The suit adds that the “Compensation must reflect the seriousness of the breach and the position of power that the Respondents hold which they used to effect an act of blatant discrimination.”
Walker is also demanding: A mandatory review of all of all SADCUOIT and UOITFA policies and resolutions for compliance with the Human Rights Code; Mandatory annual training of SADCUOIT and UOITFA executives and staff on identifying and eliminating antisemitism within their policies and practices.
You can and must help-whether or not you are in Ontario or Canada or in the country. Write a note to Dr. Tim McTiernan, the president of UOIT, at email@example.com, and tell him to take action against the discrimination from the university-funded student government at UOIT.
Don’t whine or complain or even celebrate without action. This is the time. Make your voice heard. Start a Jewish revolution by giving strength and courage to all Jewish students on campus and hope to Am Yisrael – that yes, we can defeat Jew- hatred on Campus and from there –the world.