Is­rael ad­vo­cacy train­ing work­shop is Canada’s largest

The Canadian Jewish News (Toronto) - - News - SHERI SHEFA sshefa@thecjn.ca

Has­bara Fel­low­ships Canada is gear­ing up for its fourth an­nual one-day Is­rael ad­vo­cacy train­ing work­shop, dur­ing which hun­dreds of com­mu­nity mem­bers and stu­dents can con­nect with pro-is­rael lead­ers.

“This is Canada’s big­gest Is­rael ad­vo­cacy train­ing work­shop or con­fer­ence,” said Robert Walker, Has­bara Fel­low­ships’ Cana­dian di­rec­tor.

“It brings hun­dreds of peo­ple from all walks of life – Jews, non-jews, stu­dents, adults, com­mu­nity mem­bers, peo­ple who are more in­volved, novices, ex­perts – and we con­nect them with 15 to 20 speak­ers through­out the day.”

Is­raeli pro­fes­sor Mordechai Kedar will be the key­note speaker at the event, which will be held at Toronto’s Vil­lage Shul on Feb. 26.

Kedar, a lec­turer on Ara­bic and Is­lamic stud­ies at Bar-ilan Univer­sity in Be’er Sheva, is ex­pected to speak about Is­lamic ex­trem­ism in Europe and the po­ten­tial for North Amer­ica to be af­fected by it, in a talk ti­tled “The Im­mi­gra­tion of Jew Ha­tred – The Euro­pean Case.”

Kedar, an Ara­bic-speaker who served as a lieu­tenant-colonel in the Is­raeli De­fence Forces’ in­tel­li­gence branch, “made his fame through his Ara­bic lan­guage de­bates on Jerusalem, on Al Jazeera,” Walker ex­plained.

Other speak­ers in­clude Ryan Bellerose, an abo­rig­i­nal rights ac­tivist and an out­spo­ken sup­porter of Is­rael who co-founded a group called Cal­gary United with Is­rael.

Bellerose, who rep­re­sents B’nai Brith Canada as its ad­vo­cacy co-or­di­na­tor for Western Canada, will be speak­ing about the “ef­fec­tive use of the in­dige­nous rights ar­gu­ment in Is­rael ad­vo­cacy.”

So­hail Raza, vice-pres­i­dent of the Coali­tion of Pro­gres­sive Cana­dian Mus­lim Or­ga­ni­za­tions and an ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber of Mus­lims Fac­ing To­mor­row, a non-profit “think-tank for all Mus­lims to be an in­te­gral part of Canada’s lib­eral democ­racy,” will speak from the per­spec­tive of a self-pro­claimed Mus­lim Zion­ist.

“We also have Jeff Ansel, a pub­lic re­la­tions con­sul­tant who is go­ing to be do­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion on pub­lic speak­ing skills,” Walker said.

Sarah Zeld­man, an ex­pert on so­cial me­dia man­age­ment and on­line mar­ket­ing, will lec­ture about how to ad­vo­cate for Is­rael on­line.

In ad­di­tion to lec­tures by com­mu­nity lead­ers, the con­fer­ence will also in­clude panel dis­cus­sions that ex­plore sub­jects in­clud­ing the real sit­u­a­tion on cam­pus to­day, what U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump means for Is­rael, and how to show­case Is­rael’s achieve­ments.

“We also have a panel of par­ents whose chil­dren fought in the Is­raeli army, who’ll talk about how to in­spire chil­dren to care about Is­rael and the Jewish Peo­ple,” Walker said.

Al­though Has­bara Fel­low­ships is a cam­pus or­ga­ni­za­tion, Walker felt it was im­por­tant to cre­ate an event that is geared to­wards any­one who is in­ter­ested in the sub­ject mat­ter.

“We want to make sure that ev­ery­one who wants to get in­volved, learn some­thing or just get in­spired, will have the op­por­tu­nity to do so,” he said.

“Our fo­cus, as a cam­pus or­ga­ni­za­tion, is stu­dents, but oc­ca­sion­ally, we want to make sure that peo­ple who are not stu­dents also have the same op­por­tu­ni­ties that stu­dents have,” he said, adding that last year, about 300 peo­ple took part in the event, and about a third of the gath­er­ing was stu­dents, while the rest were mem­bers of the wider com­mu­nity.

Al­though ad­mis­sion for stu­dents is free, they must regis­ter at rwalker@ has­barafel­low­ships.org. Tick­ets for the con­fer­ence, which in­cludes a light din­ner, cost $20 in ad­vance and $25 at the door and can be pur­chased here: bit.ly/is­rael­day2017.

Robert Walker

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