OTTAWA— The Ottawa chapter of the international Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) was recognized at the organization’s national convention last month for its efforts in Israel advocacy.
The chapter, known as the Nu Kappa chapter, created a pro-Israel exhibit last April that it set up in the atrium of Carleton University’s University Centre. The display showed how Israel is using its security fence along its border with the West Bank.
The exhibit was a response to a number of Israel Apartheid Week events that took place at various campuses in Canada, particularly at McMaster University and the University of Toronto.
Although Israel Apartheid Week events weren’t held at Carleton, it did have a Muslim Awareness Week, during which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was discussed.
“It was a chance for [Jewish] students to have their say after the apartheid week,” AEPi Ottawa president Jon Telch said of his chapter’s pro-Israel exhibit. “The display was providing information about why Israel needs to defend itself in such a way from acts of terrorism.”
Telch said that although there was some negative feedback from students, which he had expected, there was also a lot of positive feedback.
He said he hoped that students would learn from the display and continue to educate themselves about the various perspectives on the conflict.
“[The goal was] that people will go home and do their research and make sure that they know that there are two sides to every story,” he said.
For the exhibit, AEPi International awarded the Nu Kappa chapter with the Philip H. And Susan Cohen Award for Jewish Communal Service.
Andrew Borans, executive director of AEPi International, said the Ottawa branch was recognized within the 140-chapter international fraternity for running a Jewish event for both students and the community at large.
“When a group wins, it’s often for a combination of Jewish events. Some are religious, some are cultural, some are social,” said Borans.
This is the first award the chapter has received since it started up in 2001.
“It was a big step for us, because we hadn’t had that international recognition in such a way before,” Telch said.
“It was nice to know that not only does your hard work get rewarded, but that people appreciate that sometimes stances are hard to take, and when you decide that you’re going to volunteer to do such things, there are people there to support you.”