Jewish Students Respond to Israel Apartheid Week

Published: March 1st 2010

Jewish students at York table for Israel
Pic: Hillel of Greater Toronto

York students have already begun to table as of last week in what was called Israel Product Week, which was meant to show the many different sides of Israel. Hazanov said that the programs have attracted more non-Jewish students who are not necessarily interested in politics: “We got an entirely different group of students coming out to our tables who are more interested in medical developments or innovations. We showed them what Israel is doing and we got tremendous feedback.” However, the events at York will not ignore the political situation. “We’re not shying away from the conflict and we have several speakers and programs that tackle the conflict directly. It’s an issue which has to be addressed,” said Hazanov.


The situation for Jewish students at York University has not been easy. “Every time you walk around the campus you’re faced with an Israel Apartheid wall, and it’s uncomfortable because you know the truth and you know that there’s 90 percent of students that don’t know what that means and they’re being fed misinformation,” said Nathaly Schneider, a York University student who is involved with programs advocating for Israel. “It makes me very nervous for all the students that go to York and are misled.”


In order to respond to events such as the ones during Israel Apartheid Week, Schneider and her friend Tali Spektor have come up with Parallels for Peace, an initiative meant to cease the negative attention on campus while educating and informing about Israel. Schneider and Spektor have teamed up with groups such as Hillel @ York, CUFI (Christians United for Israel), Stand with Us and Aish Campus, and they work together to achieve their goals. One of the programs they will be running this week is called Peacemaker, which is an online game that can be played from the perspective of a Palestinian or an Israeli trying to achieve peace. The game will be available at York’s Vari Hall for students to play.


Ryerson University will also be holding events during Israel Apartheid Week. Only five percent of the university’s students are Jewish, and as Tal-or Ben-Choreen, Arts and Culture Chair, Hillel @ Ryerson explained: “The Ryerson Student Union runs a lot of education programs that have to do with anti-Israel issues. There’s a newspaper on campus called the Free Press and they tend to have anti-Semitic cartoons and at least one article on why Israel is a bad place in every issue. I feel a lot of it comes from the organizations.”


“Every campus has its different challenges and issues, but there’s always talk about Ryerson being the testing ground for a lot of the anti-Israel events that go on during IAW and throughout the year because of the population and demographics of the school,” said Esther Mendelsohn who participates in the city-wide Israel Affairs Council. “There aren’t as many Jews at Ryerson as there are at U of T or York so the anti-Israel organizers might see it as a safe place to try out what they want to bring to the other campuses.”

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