A handful of Canadian philanthropists partnering with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) are working with minorities in Israel to bring 12 young leaders to Toronto this month to help fight myths typically propagated during Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) on North American campuses .
The Connecting Leaders in Communities (CLIC) project was established to empower students and young adults to create meaningful relationships with Israel and Israelis, especially among non-Jews, and to promote democracy and shared values.
The 12 students who will be coming to Canada in March were selected from more than 200 candidates.
They come from minorities in Israel, including the Bedouin, Druze, Muslim, Circassian, Arab Christian and Jewish communities, and highlight Israel’s multicultural society, with its diverse faces and backgrounds, said Shirin Ezekiel-Hayat, the director of CLIC in Israel.
In a telephone interview from Israel, she said there are two components to the training program: providing the CLIC students with information and knowledge on Israeli history, as well as its image and its challenges; and workshops to improve the students’ public-speaking and presentation skills so that they can better share their personal stories.
The 12 Israeli students will be visiting Canadian campuses from March 7 to March 14 during IAW in order to counter its messaging and that of the related boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
The Israeli students will take part in different events, including panels and class discussions on women’s rights, diversity, innovation and more.
Ezekiel-Hayat said the purpose of the program is to “encourage students to engage others in conversations and to establish ongoing relationships with other student groups and enhance relationships.”
She said several campus Hillels, as well as the Ashkenaz Festival and Stand With Us, will host the campus events.
Another key component of the CLIC program is to create meaningful meetings between non-Jewish young leaders and student groups in Israel, and to bring a select group of young leaders to Israel from different communities in Canada, including from East Asian, South Asian and Aboriginal communities.
The new leadership program was created to fight anti-Semitism by connecting young Israelis and Canadians, in order to advance advocacy efforts and create allies in non-Jewish communities.
Ezekiel-Hayat noted that recent events have led to a dramatic increase in anti-Semitism worldwide.
“Our goal is to cultivate a cadre of young Israeli and non-Jewish activists who through personal example and exceptional leadership will advance our vision for the future,” she said.
“We need to make an effort to reach out to different groups and campuses and in the overall community, to create allies that will promote tolerance, democracy and stand up for shared values.”
Judy Zelikovitz, CIJA’s vice-president of university and local partner services, said CIJA understands the value of Canadian students meeting Israelis in Canada on their own campuses.
“Also the missions to Israel… make the CLIC program unique.”
For more information on the CLIC initiative, contact Ezekiel-Hayat at [email protected].