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Islam Awareness Week May Herald Anti-Israel Activities

By Rhonda J Spivak, B.A., L.L.B. Feb 26, 2009

Up until very recently, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg and other organizations in the community had been maintaining that it appeared unlikely that there would be an Israel Apartheid week here on campuses. 

However, it appears possible that anti-Israel activity could in fact take place in the first week of March in what is being called “Islam Awareness Week.”
On Feb 25, in an interview a Jewish student in the Faculty of Sciences at University of Manitoba said that she personally saw posters up in the Tier and/or Fletcher Argue building  advertising an Islam Awareness week, ‘three weeks ago” [at the beginning of February]. She said “Because I saw that poster, I think there will be anti-Israel activity on campus the first week of March...I thought that Islam Awareness Week was a different name for Apartheid week. The JSA [Jewish Students association] has been anticipating this. One of our slogans will be More Hummus, Less Hamas.”

On Feb 26, Jon Waldman, director of Communications of the Jewish Federation said in a telephone interview with CJN, that he was checking the website and  that Winnipeg was not listed as a city for the event.  He said he was not aware that the event could be taking place under the guise of being named “Islam Awareness Week.”

 Waldman sent us  the activites that JSA was promoting on  Facebook :

“ From March 1st to March 5th the JSA is going to campaign at the University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba to promote awareness of the culture of hate propagated within Arab media across countries within the Middle east. Nasserism and pan-Arabism will be discussed as well. In addition, information regarding Israeli cultural, social, and political life will be dispensed in response to Israel Apartheid Week.”

In a telephone interview, on Thursday Feb 18, Bob Freedman, CEO of the Federation, said that the Federation had been making inquiries about whether there would be an Israel Apartheid week but did not have any clear information that it was being held.

On Feb 18, Alan Yusim, Director, Midwest-Region B’nai Brith Canada, wrote to the office of Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President of the University of Winnipeg inquiring whether there would be an Israel Apartheid week.  Dr. Axworthy’s office responded on that same day, saying “ we here, at the University of Winnipeg, are not aware of any such event being planned at present.”

Bob Freedman, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg sent out a general email on Feb 19 on the subject saying “I have communicated with both Dr. Barnard and Dr. Axworthy and their officials and advised that they have no information with regard to any events. We agreed to keep each other informed if any new information comes to our attention.”

On Feb 26, in a telephone interview Cathy Dowd Executive Director of  the University of Manitoba Students Union [UMSU] said that  UMSU knew “nothing about  an Islam Awareness Week, or about  an Israel Apartheid Week.”  She said that she was checking with the Thaqalayn Muslim Association, a ”relatively new group” and  had not heard back from them about “whether they had anything planned.”

Our calls to the Thaqalayn Muslim Association were not returned.

On February 20, Haskell Greenfield, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Manitoba sent an email to the CJN: “I spoke with the president of UMSU [University of Manitoba Student Union], today. He said that it [Israel/Apartheid week] can be done at the last minute. As long as you don’t ask UMSU for funding or space, you can go to any department or faculty or unit and get permission for use of their space and conduct an event. All they need is a day notice.”




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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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