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Israel advocacy training day for whole community, not just students

Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, pictured, will be the event's keynote speaker

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 Ramat Gan, 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 [email protected] 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.

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