This week we celebrate Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. We tell our children and grandchildren of the successful Maccabean revolt against those who sought to extinguish the Jewish flame.
And yet, as I look at the symbols of Chanukah, I see not swords, but candles. We mark this holiday not by celebrating our military victories, but by recommitting ourselves to spreading a little more light each day.
Advocacy is no different. Every member of our community has a role to play in fighting the darkness of antisemitism. This is the thinking behind our BUYcott Israel campaign.
While there are many ways to counter boycotts of Israel, one of the best is also one of the simplest.
Buy Israeli goods. Support Israeli artists and athletes when they tour in Canada. Encourage Canadian businesses and universities to partner with Israelis. And tell your friends who may know little about Israel just how much this amazing country contributes to the world. Most of all, visit Israel! Show Israelis that you stand up for them by standing with them.
Finally, expose the lies of the failing Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Every year, more and more Canadian leaders visit and fall in love with Israel – opening the door to new Israeli-Canadian trade and partnerships. On campus, Jewish students and their allies have defeated BDS efforts at universities in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal, and Ottawa in 2017 alone.
In desperation, BDS activists have resorted to claiming false victories.
When Air Canada transferred a contract from an Israeli to North American supplier, anti-Israel groups called a routine practice a “significant national victory”. Air Canada officials swiftly dismissed these false claims.
That same month, the BDS student group at York University celebrated a “major win” after falsely claiming the university’s Environment Studies Faculty decided to not renew a long-standing relationship with Israel’s Arava Institute due to BDS. In response, York’s president, Rhonda Lenton, immediately dismissed the claims and reaffirmed the school’s unequivocal opposition to boycotts.
As Jewish families across Canada gather to celebrate the perseverance of the Jewish spirit, let us shine a little brighter by BUYCotting Israeli products.
The holidays provide the perfect opportunity to buy Israeli-made gifts for your friends and family.
I encourage you to visit our BUYcott page for ideas.
May this holiday season be filled with light for you and your families.
David J. Cape
Chair, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs