In a significant victory for Jewish and pro-Israel students across Canada, Hasbara Fellowships Canada, the country’s largest pro-Israel campus advocacy organization, is proud to announce that the Student Association of Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (SADCUOIT) has settled a legal case that Hasbara Fellowships Canada had filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) last summer.
In March, 2016, Hasbara Fellowships Canada’s National Director Robert Walker was informed by email that he could not participate in the Student Association’s Social Justice Week because Hasbara Fellowships was “connected to the State of Israel.” Soon after, the president of the Student Association told a local newspaper that banning Hasbara Fellowships Canada from campus was similar to preventing KKK from participating in a Black Lives Matter event, and the Student Association, in a press release, stated that Hasbara Fellowships Canada’s mandate was to “promote policies that contributes to the colonization of Indigenous Peoples…”
In July, 2016, Hasbara Fellowships Canada filed a Human Rights complaint with the the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, seeking, among other details, $50,000 in damages, an invitation back to campus, and a formal apology, stating that discrimination had occurred. It was the first time in recent memory that a Jewish organization in Canada took legal action in response to issues on a university campus.
Today, while the full details of this settlement are confidential, Hasbara Fellowships Canada is very satisfied with the resolution. Hasbara Fellowships also applauds the Student Association for their public statement and press release on the matter, which includes the statement: “The Student Association (SA) sincerely apologizes to Mr. Walker and Hasbara” and that the SA “rejects discrimination of any kind, including against Israeli students.” Furthermore, their release reads: “We welcome Mr. Walker and Hasbara’s participation at a future multicultural event on campus.”
“What an incredible difference a year makes,” Hasbara Fellowships Canada National Director Robert Walker said in a statement. “One year ago, we were banned from Social Justice Week for being ‘connected to the State of Israel,’ and today the Student Association has apologized, is welcoming us back to campus, and have affirmed that they reject “discrimination of any kind, including against Israeli students or community members.”
Following Hasbara Fellowships Canada’s public education campaign in the wake of the March, 2016 incident, the administration of UOIT became the first university in Ontario to publicly state that they “do not support a boycott, divestment or sanctions against Israel.”