Congratulations to Hasbara Fellowships Canada for its victory at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal over the student union of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. The union willfully and without grounds refused to allow Hasbara Fellowships Canada to participate in a social justice-themed campus event in 2016 because of the group’s “ties to Israel.” Finally, we have a Jewish organization teaching Jewish students not only to stand up to hate, but fight back. This “win” was not only against the Student Union, it was a defeat for BDS. I,for one, am thrilled. Disclosure: I am a proud member of the board.
There were those in the Jewish community who advised not going the legal route: for fear of losing. FEAR. This is the type of advice I had hoped had been buried but it seems we are still plagued by Jewish leaders who refuse to let go of the shtetl mind and are afraid to shake off the dust of exile.
You can read all about the apologies extended for their transparent hate for Jews and Israel, their unbearable arrogance and ignorance of facts on the ground, (“the president of the student association last year publicly compared Hasbara Fellowships to the KKK”), and their gross illiteracy regarding Social justice and the People who brought it into the world more than 3500 years ago and continue to practice it in our land at the end of the article.
We are taught in Torah: Do Not Fear; “For I, the Lord your God, am with you.” Hasbara Fellowships Canada, under the brave leadership of its National Director, Robert Walker, remembered that. We must not fear. We must use fear. If others will not respect us, then let them fear us. Let them fear the courts. Let them learn that we will not sit by the river and cry.
Last year Hasbara Fellowships Canada had lodged a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.The matter was settled before reaching the tribunal. (This is the same tribunal which recently demanded a $12,000 payment to a Muslim tenant because the landlord had walked on his prayer mats when showing the apartment to prospective clients). Mr. Walker said when the settlement was reached:
“Today, we have a formal apology from the student association.… They have acknowledged that wrongdoing took place and, notably, they identified Israelis specifically, and highlighted their opposition to anti-Israel discrimination specifically.”
Let’s put this win in perspective.
“The number of antisemitic incidents in Canada set a record in 2016, rising by 26 percent over the previous year. In total, B’nai Brith Canada recorded 1,728 incidents nationwide last year, according to its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, compared to 1,277 incidents in 2015. The previous record was 1,627 in 2014. Possible reasons for the increase, the audit reported, included Holocaust denial on social media, university campus anti-Zionism and anti-Israel sentiment found in some Arabic-language newspapers.”
Antisemitic activities on Canadian campuses include a staged walkout of a vote on Holocaust education at Toronto’s Ryerson University and the support for a former student rep who tweeted “punch a Zionist” at McGill. Four Canadian universities – the University of Toronto, McGill, McMaster and York – made the Algemeiner’s “1st Annual List of the U.S. and Canada’s Worst Campuses for Jewish Students,” released last month by the New York-based weekly publication. U of T landed at No. 3, behind Columbia University in New York and Vassar College. McGill University in Montreal followed at No. 4, while McMaster in Hamilton was ranked at 13, and York University in Toronto came in at number 17. I was taken aback that York was 17. I thought it would be in the top ten.
Despite the studies and the statistics, there are still some Jewish organizations downplaying these findings. To what end?
The great news is that Hasbara Fellowships Canada takes them seriously.
Let us all learn to use the courts, the Human Rights Tribunals and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms without trepidation or fear.
Hasbara will fight without fear. Will others follow suit?
Here are the many links. Enjoy!
And here is the apologia (response) from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology