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Ad campaign tests pro-Israel group’s launch in Canada

Known for emotional, high-profile publicity, are the ‘brash’ techniques used by StandWithUs suitable for kinder gentler Canada?

By ARNO ROSENFELD7 November 2013, 9:00 pm

VANCOUVER — An advertising campaign countering anti-Israel ads on Canadian buses is testing an American advocacy group as it extends its reach into Canada.

StandWithUs, a 12-year-old group based in southern California with branches across the United States and in Israel, opened its first Canadian office last December. But it was only recently that its presence was felt there. In mid-October the organization put up a series of pro-Israel advertisements on Vancouver transit after ads critical of Israel began running in September.

The full-throttle campaign ran counter the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), the Canadian standard-bearer of Israel advocacy, which initially called for a muted communal response, arguing acknowledgment would only draw more publicity.

“These kind of anti-Israel initiatives mostly don’t gain a whole lot of traction with the public and what we’re trying to avoid is giving it oxygen that it wouldn’t otherwise benefit from,” said Shimon Fogel, CIJA’s CEO.

While the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center in Toronto (FSWC) and the local Jewish federation in Vancouver both ignored CIJA’s plea and spoke out forcefully in the media against the ads, when it came to the counter ads StandWithUs found scant support among the organized community.

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