Jewish students across the country are relieved as this year’s Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) faded away with IAW events poorly attended and IAW promoters receiving little attention for their cause.
“This year’s Israel Apartheid Week showed very clearly that extremism and hatefulness are not effective methods of engaging with a wider student community,” said Emile Scheffel, a 4th year student at Ottawa’s Carleton University.
But the whimpering presence of IAW can be attributed, in good measure, to a coordinated multi-pronged, multi-dimensional, year-round counter-campaign, organized and implemented by CIJA (Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy) and Hillel of Greater Toronto.
While IAW organizers focused their energy on promoting their anti-Israel agenda, students across the country came together to portray the real face of Israel, through engaging local programs and the support of national initiatives, such as Size Doesn’t Matter (SDM) and Truth in Context.
The SDM campaign, launched in February, 2010, is a multifaceted program that uses social media, campus giveaways, videos and an interactive blog to spotlight Israel beyond the conflict. This year alone Size Doesn’t Matter distributed over 60,000 promotional items on campuses across the country and hosted several events. Each day SDM posts articles and videos on topics such as the newest Israeli hotspots, advancements in Israeli technology and celebrity visits to Israel.
“SDM has a huge following among the campus demographic and is currently the most popular Jewish student advocacy initiative in North America, with over 6,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook,” says Jay Solomon, CIJA’s Manager of Campus Advocacy
Truth in Context, by contrast, is a campaign that directly challenges the most prominent distortions propagated by IAW organizers and their supporters. Throughout the year “truth cards” were distributed on campus, drawing students to an interactive website where they could distinguish fact from propaganda on Middle East issues.
Hillel of Greater Toronto successfully spotlighted different dimensions of Israel through Layla Lavan (White Night) – an all-night celebration of Israeli creativity, art and fashion, attended by 500 people.
“Layla Lavan gave students from a variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds an opportunity to see Israel in a completely different light,” said Eyal Melamed, a 3rd year student at York University. “We got to hear about Israeli products, crafts and travel opportunities. It was a fabulous event, completely focused on the beauty that is Israel.”
A saucy new video by the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students (CFJS) aims to show that everyone in Israel has full rights regardless of their sexual orientation.
The minute-long video entitled Israel: Small Country, Big Pride is part of CFJS’ Size Doesn’t Matter marketing campaign. The new video was posted on its website, SizeDoesntMatter.ca, on Feb. 9 and has since picked up some viral momentum. It’s received roughly 4,600 hits on YouTube.
It features four young, stylish guests seated at a dinner table engaged in a bit of same-sex footsie. The campaign is aimed at students and young professionals.
“We basically wanted to show Israel beyond the conflict and show all the great things Israel has contributed to the world in terms of progressive human rights, like LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning] rights, women’s rights, and also that it’s an exciting tourist destination with beautiful people,” said Paige MacPherson, vice-president external of CFJS.
“We’re trying to promote the fact that there is a full range of rights for the LGBTQ community in Israel,” said MacPherson. “Generally the feedback we’ve gotten from students and members of the community and through YouTube, social media and the Size Doesn’t Matter website has all been very positive.”
The broader Size Doesn’t Matter campaign is focused on promoting the shared values between Canada and Israel and runs complementary to CFJS’ advocacy efforts, said MacPherson.
Last year, CFJS posted two other videos as part of the campaign. Israel: Small Country, Big Paradise launched in February and shows the country as an exciting tourist destination. It stirred up some controversy as it features a young couple sitting on a bed talking about size and motioning towards the shirtless young male’s lap, which is obscured as his girlfriend says, “It’s small.” “Small?” the guy asks incredulously. Turns out the couple is looking at a map of Israel and debating whether to visit the country. It’s received more than one million hits on YouTube.
The second, decidedly tamer, video launched last April and is called Israel: Small Country, Big Ideas. It features two young adults in a coffee shop as one plans his trip to Israel. They have a flirty exchange about some of Israel’s medical and human rights advancements.
“The intention is to market Israel in an edgy way and, admittedly, we have pushed some boundaries, but overall this marketing campaign has been extremely effective in terms of feedback,” said MacPherson.
All of the creative work for Size Doesn’t Matter is done in-house at CFJS, a board of Jewish students who are currently attending university or college.
The Globe and Mail Published on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010 – Simon Houpt
Can the prospect of oral sex deflate hardening anti-Israel sentiment?
As the Israeli government rolls out a PR offensive to combat what it believes are misperceptions, a new campaign on campuses across Canada is encouraging students to think of the Jewish state as a technologically and culturally advanced Mediterranean playground that can provide a lot of fun and excitement in a small package.
Visitors to the website sizedoesntmatter.ca are greeted with thumping dance music and a series of travel-brochure images of Israel: azure waters, hot bodies, packed clubs, and colourful open-air markets.
There’s also a 50-second commercial featuring a young man and woman talking in bed. “Don’t be mad, but it’s small … I just don’t know if I can go there,” she says, looking at his lap just off-camera.
“I consider this a spot of worship,” he replies, then adds: “It may be small, but it’s brought the driest places to life. Baby, this is paradise.”
What are they looking at? A map of Israel.
The video concludes with the tagline: “Israel. Small country, big paradise,” though the website has a different slogan: “Small country, big appetite for peace.” The site supplies facts about the country’s medical and communication-technology industries, its population, and its environmental efforts.
“Our students year-to-year on campus are so burdened by the politicization of the debate,” says Susan Davis, executive director of the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy, an arm of the United Jewish Appeal, which backed the effort. “It’s the idea of hearing about Israel in the bigger picture, Israel outside the conflict, Israel as a complete country. And the students are the most excited.”
Pun intended? “Did I say that?” Ms. Davis replied.
A controversial pro-Israel campaign was launched in universities across Canada last week, in an attempt to counter the global pro-Palestinian campaign, “Israel Apartheid Week,” launched on Sunday.
The campaign, named “Size Doesn’t Matter,” was initiated by the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students, and is taking place in 23 universities across Canada, according the official “Size Doesn’t Matter” website.
An especially peppery video ad posted on the campaign website displays a young couple in bed, with the young woman complaining of the “size” of what turns out to be a map of Israel.
Organizers said that the campaign was aimed at “highlighting the multitude of Israeli accomplishments and contributions,” saying it was the “result of the combined efforts by the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students (CFJS), local Hillels, Jewish Student Associations, and Israel on Campus organizations across Canada.”
The campaign website indicated that renowned speakers will be discussing Mideast-related issues, including Khaled Abu Toameh, Dr. Joel Kotek, Dr. Mohammed Wattad, and Ismael Khaldi.
“We are very excited about this campaign,” said Rebecca Cherniak, Israel Affairs Chair for the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students.
“On many Canadian campuses, Israel is often vilified by anti-Israel proponents. The “Size Doesn’t Matter” campaign will showcase an Israel that many students have never seen before,” Cherniak said
‘Don’t be mad, but it’s small,” starts a video of two sexy, half-dressed college students in bed.
The 45-second video, laden with enough double entendres and sexual innuendoes to make almost anyone blush, or at least laugh, is part of a new online pro-Israel campaign called sizedoesntmatter.ca, run by the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students and a number of other Canadian Israel advocacy organizations on campuses across the country.
While size might not matter, going viral for advocacy campaigns certainly does. In its first four days on the Web, the video got 17,000 hits on the group’s Web site and on YouTube.
The group is targeting the “more than 80% of students on a given campus who haven’t made up their minds about Israel and the Middle East,” said Noah Kochman, chair of political affairs and advocacy for CFJS, and a political science student at McGill University. “This [video] will drive people to a Web site that contains valuable facts about Israel… its culture and innovation,” he said referring to the campaign’s Web site, which is full of information about Israel, Israel-focused events on campuses and news stories about Israel.
While Kochman said that the campaign is not a direct response to the Israeli Apartheid Week, which is scheduled for March 1–7, an upcoming project by the same coalition of groups will address the event.
As for the next “Size doesn’t matter” video, will it make us blush? Probably not, Kochman says, but it might get a laugh. “The next one will be more information and fact based, but it will definitely work through humor,” he said.