In the days leading up to “Israeli Apartheid Week” sponsored by the Arab Students’ Collective at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, the Hillel of Greater Toronto sponsored a citywide celebration of the Jewish state’s art, culture and diversity. Israeli pop star Idan Raichel was among the highlights of IsraelFEST, the weeklong event that ended Friday.
The festival also sponsored a makeshift Israeli marketplace, a Hamsa-making workshop, a film screening and a photography exhibit.Israeli Apartheid Week, which began Monday, offered a series of lectures and panel discussions condemning Israel as a racist state that subjugates the Palestinian people. The student group put up a mock “apartheid wall,” representing the security barrier Israel is erecting in the West Bank.Some Jewish groups, including B’nai B’rith Canada, called Israeli Apartheid Week a hate fest and urged the university to cancel the event. But Hillel of Toronto leaders said they supported the school’s choice to play host to the conference as a matter of freedom of expression.