SURVEY OF HOW CANADIANS VIEW ISRAEL AIDS ISRAEL ADVOCACY; FINDING THE “KNOWLEDGE GAPS”
A national telephone survey commissioned by La’ad Canada, conducted by the research and strategy firm Campaign Research, in a national telephone survey in September, asked 1500 people from across Canada key questions about what they think about Israel and Jews. Some examples: “Where do you believe the Jewish people originate from? Is anti Semitism a problem in Canada? Is the conflict between Israel and Palestine about religion or is it political?”
But the three questions about BDS were the most startling. Only 12 percent were familiar with it and 19 percent of those surveyed agreed with the movement. The third question asked “If Israel were to meet its ‘obligations under international law’, including withdrawal from the occupied territories, removal of the separation barrier in the West Bank, full equality for Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel and promotion of the right of return of Palestinian refugees, do you believe that it should be subject to further boycott, divestment and sanctions?”
“Yes” was the answer of the 45 percent who supported BDS.
“If you’re still calling for BDS once Israel does every single thing BDS is asking for, clearly, it’s not about whatever BDS is aiming for, it must be about something else,’ said Sam Eskenasi, director of advocacy for La’ad Canada. “Our conclusion is, it’s very likely anti Semitism.
At a lecture organized by the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR), recently, titled What Do Canadians Think About Israel, La’ad’s Eskenasi, and Lauren Isaacs from Hasbara Fellowships Canada, spoke about how the two organizations partner to “fill the knowledge gaps” and “take control of the narrative. Their target audience is the students on university campuses.
The poll will give students the knowledge they are missing and help them distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and anti Semitism. “We’re winning the ground war but losing the media war,” she said.
Isaacs also gave directives in how to present Israel and Jewish advocacy. “Connect Israel to current topics that are ‘hot button; facts are important but emotions impact people more and drive decisions; make it personal” were some suggestions. Above all, “give people hope”.
La’ad Canada was founded in 2017 by a group of young professionals who saw the need for an advocacy organization focused on the next generation of Jewish Canadians. They believe that reaching millennials requires a different approach than the one that worked for their parents and grandparents, who fought for Soviet Jewry or remembered the struggle for the Jewish State and what it meant for persecuted Jews around the world.