Canadian trade school retracts ban on Israeli students after row

The Island School of Building Arts in British Columbia apologized after an Israeli engineering student said his application had been rejected due to geopolitics.

February 1, 2017 12:23
2 minute read.
Canadian flag

Canadian flag. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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A Canadian trade school has rescinded its policy of not accepting Israeli students after outcry from the global Jewish community.

Israeli Stav Doron applied to study at the Island School of Building Arts, a Canadian school specializing in wood construction and design located on Gabriola Island in the province of British Columbia, yet was denied admission on the basis of his nationality.

According to copies of emails received by The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, Doron had been in correspondence with Patricia Rokosh, the ISBA’s manager of student services, since January.

When Doron applied for the course, Rokosh wrote back on January 25 that the school is “not accepting applications from Israel.” She said the reason was “due to the conflict and illegal settlement activity in the region.”

Doron responded to Rokosh that, “It’s really sad to hear that a place that takes pride in taking students from across the world would behave like this.”

Rokosh wrote back: “It is sad that decisions being made halfway around the world impact us here as we have had a number of students from Israel attend the school in the past.”

The email continued: “This is a question of staying in line with our moral compass, which will always be important to us. We are still inclusive and cannot support that which is not inclusive.”

In his final email to the school, Doron wrote that, “not taking applications from Israeli students just because they are from Israel is racism, which is basically what you are protesting against.”

Following reports on the rejections, the school received a number of inquiries from Jewish groups and individuals, including Canada’s Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs and B’nai Brith Canada, demanding clarification and a retraction of the discriminatory policy.

The school then published a retraction on its website: “After significant thought and listening to all interested parties, ISBA has decided to rescind any restriction placed on accepting students from Israel and apologize for any impact or inconvenience.”

Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada, said he was pleased with the speedy resolution though expressed outrage at the fact that such an incident had occurred in the first place.

“The fact that an educational institution in Canada would have the temerity to hold such a discriminatory policy is outrageous,” he said. “The school’s immediate reversal, when confronted with the truth of its actions, only illustrates the immorality of anti-Israel bias.”

Despite the reversal, Doron has expressed gratitude for the “outpouring of support,” but has said that he will not reapply to the school following the incident.

Israeli reporter Ido Daniel, who also serves as director of the organization Israeli Students Combating Antisemitism, first broke the story of the ban on the Hebrew Mako site.

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