Wednesday, 17 December 2008

President of Ottawa University Allan Rock Threatens Funding of Ottawa Public Interest Group for Calling Israel 'Apartheid'




On various campuses, Hillel is launching campaigns to pull funding from PIRGs (Public Interest Research Groups) because of the strongstand taken by some PIRGs around the issue of Israeli Apartheid.

Hillel launched a campaign to pull funding from QPIRG McGill and, although not directly linked to Hillel, there has been an online and on campus campaign against OPIRG Toronto because of theirPalestine solidarity work.

Most recently, Hillel at the University of Ottawa approached OPIRG Ottawa to endorse one of their events. OPIRG refused on the groundsthat as a social justice organization, they cannot work with Hillel because of their support for Israel. In response, Hillel contacted the local media, who have joined in a smear campaign against OPIRG Ottawa (see links below). Now, the President of Ottawa University isthreatening to pull funding from OPIRG Ottawa(http://www.president.uottawa.ca/blog/tag/opirg/).Hillel and its supporters are working hard to send their message tothe University of Ottawa and the general public. OPIRG Ottawa needsJewish, anti-Zionist allies to write letters of support for OPIRG and in condemnation of Hillel for supporting Israeli Apartheid. Jewish involvement is important to counter claims that OPIRG is being anti-Semitic by refusing to work with Hillel. We need to send a clear message to President Allan Rock that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism and Hillel does not represent all Jewish students on Canadian campuses. Let him know that many Jews actively support the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society organizations to conduct a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israeli Apartheid. Hillel does not speak on our behalf and we must confront them when they launch campaigns of political intimidation against organizations like OPIRG. OPIRG has asked for letters of support (please let them know if they can post them publicly), which can be sent to:
http://us.mc623.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=opirg@uottawa.ca

Please also send letters to:
Allan Rock, President of the University of Ottawa: allan.rock@uOttawa.ca
Ottawa Citizen article:
National Post article:

SAMPLE LETTER
Mr. Allan Rock,
I am writing to you because I am deeply concerned about your response to the recent incident at the University of Ottawa involving Hillel and OPIRG.

In your one-sided response, you accuse OPIRG of being discriminatory and go so far as to challenge their right to student funding because they refused to support an event put on by Hillel because of their support for and ties to Israel. OPIRG is a social justice organization that has made commitments to fighting against racism and oppression. Hillel is an overtly Zionist organization whose website clearly states that they are "steadfastly committed to the support of Israel as Jewish and Democratic State withsecure and recognized borders and as a member of the family of free nations."

It is well-documented that Israel is an apartheid state that commits human rights violations against the Palestinian people –including their on-going siege of Gaza and the construction of an Apartheid wall that has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice. A wide range of prominent international figures, including Bishop Desmond Tutu, former US President Jimmy Carter and recently, President of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann have condemned Israel's apartheid policies.

During the time of South African Apartheid, student groups were a vital part of the anti-Apartheid struggle. I can only hope that your administration would not have supported a pro-Apartheid group in the context of South Africa, nor would you have condemned student groups fighting South African Apartheid. So why are you supporting Hillel and condemning OPIRG in the case of Israeli Apartheid? My fear is that you have taken this stand based on the belief that opposition to Israel is anti-Semitic. As a Jewish person, I find the assumption that all Jews support Israeli Apartheid to be extremely offensive and dangerous. It is not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel's policies and to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.Hillel, and its radical Zionist politics, do not represent me and the numerous other Jewish people who reject Zionism and strongly oppose Israeli Apartheid. I support OPIRG Ottawa and their brave stand in support of the Palestinian people. I encourage you to do the same.
Sincerely,
NAME
CITY

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