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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel activism groups in Canada launched a viral campaign this week called "Students for Peace on Campus" to battle Israel Apartheid Week (IAW).
In just the second day of the week-long series of anti-Israel events, Canada's Center for Israel Activism and the Hasbara Fellowship and Hillel of Greater Toronto combined their efforts to set up a Web site and distribute YouTube videos aiming to "spread awareness and combat this unacceptable atmosphere on college campuses."
IAW, which began on Sunday, is just one example of the intense anti-Israel activity that has overrun North American college campuses since the recent war in Gaza. On February 11, Jewish students at Toronto's York University were forced to take refuge in the Hillel office when anti-Israel protesters banged on the glass and threatened the lives of the students.
Orna Hollander, the executive director of the Center for Israel Activism, told The Jerusalem Post that "York students wearing yarmulkas still can't even walk around without being harassed."
The Web site aims to provide students with a venue to report these incidents of intolerance.
"Students didn't have a place to go to until now," Hollander explained. "We're hoping that the Web site will give them a chance to report individual abuses and work together to combat IAW."
The other purpose of the site is to provide information. There are countless photographs - which can be uploaded by any student - a blog and five videos posted already. Footage of IAW events show Israeli flags burning and people saying, "Die, Israel," among other examples of hatred. Canada's Israel activism groups have been provided with access to many Jewish community's listservs so the videos can be distributed to as many people as possible. Another YouTube video is set to be posted Wednesday morning.
Two of the videos can be seen below:
In addition to the response by Students for Peace on Campus, the group Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) was asked by Israel Campus Coalition and JNF on Saturday to compile faculty reports on anti-Israel and anti-Semitic events.
"We're working with the faculty to make sure that standards of intimidation and incitement on campuses are being sanctioned," SPME cofounder Dr. Edward S. Beck told the Post.
Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Leor Ben Dor explained that Israel's position on IAW was just to ignore it.
"The events are usually small." he said. "Most of the people who attend are pro-Palestinian, so they're preaching to their own choir. Plus, if we were to react, we'd only be giving them more media coverage."
According to Hollander, responding to these attacks on Israel is the job of the students.
"Israel's got enough on its plate," she said. "The students should be on the front lines against intolerance."