Israel - Light onto Nations is an initiative, not a media watch organization. It is web-based and does not involve fundraising.

Israel - Light onto Nations endorses various Canadian media-watch organizations, such as: CLIC - Canadian Light on Israel Coverage, Honest Reporting ( and The Media Action Group (

Did You Know?

Israel engineers are behind the development of the largest communications router in the world, launched by Cisco.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Review: Israel is a free, democratic state (Israel Apartheid Week - Toronto)

Israel is a free, democratic state

An Israeli doctor, Dr. Raz Somech, saved the life of a baby boy with an immune deficiency. The boy was from the Gaza Strip. This story, documented in the Academy Award shortlisted film Precious Life, is not one typically discussed on campus at any point in the year.

For the last four years, a twenty-four year old Israel Defense Forces soldier has been held in captivity by the terrorist group Hamas. His captors have never permitted the International Committee of the Red Cross or any other humanitarian organization to visit him. This story, Gilad Shalit’s, is another one that is not typically discussed on campus.

Stories that showcase the intricacies of Israel’s reality are not the ones that dominate at U of T. Instead, our campus shamefully helped to provide the birthplace of a global student movement that continues to make false accusations that demonize and delegitimize Israel.

As students, we sit in lectures accepting information to repeat on our next exams, but in reality, should we not give close consideration to the facts before accepting anyone else’s statements and claims? Let’s start with the popular name of this week. Contrary to what that label entails, no Israeli citizen faces legal segregation or institutionalized discrimination. Israel is a democratic state, where all citizens irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation are protected by the same standards that we hold dear as Canadians. More specifically, Israeli Arabs hold office in the Israeli Parliament and all citizens are permitted to vote.

Now, you may also hear about a security perimeter that greatly decreases terrorist attacks in Israel. During the Second Intifada in 2003, Israel confronted a significant increase in suicide bombers from the West Bank. As all democracies do, Israel sought to provide protection for its citizens and erected a security fence. This was designed not to separate people but to prevent the entry of terrorists into the country; terrorists whose attacks resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries to Israeli citizens. As a result of its construction, terrorist activity has decreased by over 90 per cent. This success has translated into the end of Israelis living in constant fear of such attacks. The fence is a temporary measure, and when the Palestinian government renounces terrorist activity, it will be taken down. If Canada were experiencing frequent attacks from another nation along its borders, would we as Canadian citizens not expect our government to do the same?

A proper discussion of Israel goes beyond the struggle with the Palestinians and takes into account the many other people in and around it. These include its geographical situation, the location of its natural resources, its strategic needs to provide security for all its people, and so forth. These people include the many refugees — especially from Africa and others who are not Jewish — to whom Israel is a safe haven. Approximately 1,200 refugees cross into the country from the Sinai every month and are allowed to stay. While Israel has much to discuss internally on how to care for these people, merely allowing them to stay is a great feat.

Rather than discuss these complex issues in depth with openness and honesty, some wish to use the U of T campus to foster anti-Israel sentiment and create a hostile environment for all students. Regardless of whether a student is pro-Israel, anti-Israel, or simply curious, the campus should serve as a safe space where everyone can enter the conversation. Attending an academic institution should provide us with a place to explore and grapple with the many topics that discussing Israel raises.

This week, students will be tabling on campus and they will offer a real conversation about Israel. This will include just about anything you want to know: politics, technological advancements, humanitarian aid, good jokes, and so forth. Dr. Karen Held will be discussing her volunteer work in Haiti with IsraAid (Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., Hart House Debates Room). Michael Coren & Ishmael Khaldi will also be speaking (Thursday at 4:30 p.m., Ryerson, Kerr Hall West 061). Finally, Israeli culture will be displayed at Layla Lavan, an Israeli-style Nuit Blanche party featuring Israeli bands, fashion, and an arts & crafts fair (Sunday at 6:30 p.m., On The Rox).

For this campus to hold a rational, constructive discussion about Israel, we must work towards providing an open, safe, and welcoming environment, all of which anti-Israel organizers deny students. Affixing false accusations and labels to a complicated issue only serves to prevent students from properly learning about the situation. The organizers have only created a divisive atmosphere that alienates the student body. This year, the Israel Affairs Committee urges you not to allow this group of students to control the conversation. This discussion is one that all students should feel comfortable engaging in!

Michael Coren on Israel Apartheid Week 2011