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Stand with UsBy MYRON LOVE Don Aronovitch, Louisa Raizman, Steven Schipper and Judi Shuster are inviting Winnipeg’s Jewish community and other supporters of Israel to join them in standing with Jewish students on Winnipeg university campuses who have to deal with threats and intimidation from some fellow students and professors should they openly support Israel.

Aronovitch, Raizman, Schipper and Shuster are the founders of the new chapter of StandWithUsCanada.
The Winnipeg chapter is the first chapter in Canada outside of the head office in Toronto.
As Raizman notes, StandWithUs was formed by Roz Rothstein and her husband, Jeremy, in 2001 in Los Angeles in response to the overwhelming negative publicity surrounding Israel during the height of the Palestinian terror campaign against Israel (2002-2002). Their goal was to educate others about Israel.
Today, StandWithUs has 18 chapters throughout the U.S., Europe, Canada and Israel – with much of its focus in fighting anti-Zionism and anti-Israel propaganda on university campuses.

StandWithUsCanada was formed four years ago. The organization’s campus activities include activism training, financial assistance for programming, educational campaigns, and informational material to support pro-Israel student groups and efforts.
Last fall, StandWithUsCanada executive director Meryle Kates and Canadian campus director Zena Rakhamilova were in Winnipeg to introduce the community to the organization and its mission.

Louisa Raizman had been following the work of StandWithUs for the past several years. She recounts her distress at seeing some of the “Israel Apartheid Week” posters her son brought home from university several years ago.
“The situation on Canadian campuses may not be as bad as that which American Jewish university student face,” she says, “but we are seeing growing anti-Semitism and attempted BDS motions in Canada, too. Our focus is on countering anti-Semitic rhetoric and programming that challenge our students on campus through education and engagement. We feel that sustained pro-Israel advocacy on our campuses is currently lacking.”

Aronovitch adds that opposition to Israel is very well organized and financed. “Our kids on campus are like deer in the headlights,” he comments. “Lacking support and leadership, they often try to avoid the issues.”

The Winnipeg chapter of StandWithUsCanada began meeting in the spring. “We are looking for more people to join us and become involved,” Raizman says. “We need people to help sell tickets to our events and talk up what we are doing.”

What the members of the Winnipeg chapter can’t do is themselves lead Israel advocacy programs on campus.
The impetus has to come from students and Jewish student organizations on campus.
“What we try to do is provide students with the education, tools, funding and support to advocate for Israel on campus,” Raizman says. “We need young people who have the courage to get involved.
“All the money we raise in Winnipeg goes entirely to programming.”

For students Jewish and non-Jewish on Winnipeg university campuses, StandWithUsCanada is introducing a new program – Gratitude Days.
This will be the first time that the event will be held in Canada and will be introduced later at Toronto universities.

As Zena Rakhamilova explains, the idea of Gratitude Days was introduced in Tel Aviv about a decade ago.
Every year in the spring for the ten days between Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut, three big blackboards are erected in downtown Tel Aviv and everyone is encouraged to write down something to be grateful for.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week (the 26th and 27th), blackboards are to be erected at the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. Students were encouraged to write down what they feel grateful for.
“It is a challenge to make Israel relevant in campuses when 80% of the students aren’t interested in the issues,” Rakhamilova notes. “Gratitude Days help us to engage students in a positive conversation about Israel in a relaxed atmosphere.”

The Winnipeg chapter’s own opening program is scheduled for Tuesday, October 24, at 7:30 at the Shaarey Zedek.
The speaker will be an Israeli Arab by the name of Yahya who will be talking about his personal journey from anti-Israel activist to proud Zionist.
Tickets are $18 and can be ordered through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by contacting 204 293-1141 or purchased at the door. The event is free for students with ID.

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