Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Anti-Semitism still alive in BC

Can one believe that in 2017, a Canadian Institution of higher learning is still engaged in Anti-Semitism, discrimination, and a follower of fake news etc.   There was a polite protest, and in response, a very weak apology and correction.   However, one must ask what is in the water that this institution is drinking.   Where do such outrageous attitudes come from?   There is a deep problem.   We are not living in 1933 Nazi Germany.   Certainly, social awareness, human decency, and human rights laws, have evolved since then?   I suppose not, at the Island School of Building Arts (ISBA) British Columbia.   Since when did hate behaviour require “significant thought and listening to all interested parties” for corrective action? PF

from CIJA

Dear Supporter:

This morning, I was absolutely outraged to read the news that an Israeli applicant to the Island School of Building Arts (ISBA) in British Columbia was told that it was refusing all applications from Israel due to “conflict and illegal settlement activity in the region”.

In my thirty years of working for our community, I have never come across a single incident of a Canadian school adopting such a policy. This is why I wanted to ensure we had an accurate understanding of the facts of the incident. CIJA’s team in Vancouver quickly contacted the school to express our deep concern and determine if the school had a policy of boycotting Israeli applicants.

Shockingly, in its reply to CIJA’s intervention, the school openly admitted that they boycotted Israeli applicants – and that they are reversing this policy immediately. The final exchange between the school and our Pacific Region Director, Nico Slobinsky, may be read below.

This incident has seized and unified our community, and we note that other community organizations engaged and took action parallel to our efforts. While we are pleased that swift intervention has led to a positive outcome, this incident is emblematic of the dangers of BDS. I won’t mince words: this was a disgusting and shameful attempt to ban an Israeli simply for being Israeli. We cannot and will not let such blatant discrimination go unchallenged.

This incident also affirms the importance of relationship-building with elected officials at all levels. We are thankful that we have such a strong champion for expanding BC-Israel ties in the Government of BC. We have raised this matter with officials in the BC Ministry of Advanced Education. We will update them accordingly, continue to voice our alarm regarding the fact that this school had such a policy in the first place, and explore additional avenues of accountability.

At the same time, the rapid nature of today’s developments reminds me that the world moves faster than ever before. In a digital age in which a single individual or incident can garner international headlines in minutes, it is more important than ever that we remain vigilant and strategic in identifying, exposing, and confronting those who seek to isolate the Jewish State. 

Sincerely, Shimon Koffler Fogel   CIJA CEO


Response from the Island School of Building Arts

Mr. Slobinsky,

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 inconvenience.

ISBA remains acceptant to all and will continue to do so without restrictions.

Regards  Patricia Rokosh


Letter from CIJA to the Island School of Building Arts

We write to express our deep concern about emerging reports on print and social media to the effect that an Israeli student has been denied an application to study at your school due to “conflict and illegal settlement activity in the (Middle East) region”. If this is indeed the case, we would like you to inform us of how and by whom was this decision made? It appears that ISBA is actively discriminating against Israeli nationals based on their place of origin, ancestry, and/or religion.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of Jewish life in Canada by advancing the public policy interests of Canada’s organized Jewish community. We combat antisemitism and discrimination in all its forms and advocate for fundamental rights and freedoms.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Respectfully Yours, Nico Slobinsky  Director, CIJA, Pacific Region

Jason Z. Murray  Pacific Region Chair, CIJA

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