FEBRUARY 17, 2022
“We’re just 75 years since the gas chambers. So, no, a billboard calling out bigotry against Jews isn’t an overreaction” and “Does your church need armed guards? ‘Cause our synagogue does” are among the messages Toronto residents will see hanging from busy freeways and streets from February 28 to March 27 this year as part of an antisemitism ad campaign.
JewBelong, a non-profit dedicated to fighting antisemitism, partnered with the Canadian branch of pro-Israel organization StandWithUs on a billboard campaign in Toronto to raise awareness about the rise in antisemitic incidents in Canada and worldwide. JewBelong's signature pink billboards with bold slogans are sure to catch the eye of drivers and aim to educate the general public about combating antisemitism.
“Antisemitism has become tolerated and normalized in far too many circles in both the US and Canada,” said JewBelong co-founder Archie Gottesman. “The type of hate leveled against Jews followed by the deafening silence from supposedly good people should be abhorrent to anyone who stands for justice. The time of Jewish people being silent in hopes that the hate will disappear has long passed.”
JewBelong's pink billboards have already appeared in US cities, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Boston and Orlando.
The billboard debut follows the release of B'nai Brith Canada's annual 2020 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, which found that 2020 was the fifth consecutive record-setting year for antisemitism in Canada – an 18.3% increase from 2019. This includes harassment, vandalism and violence in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in communities throughout America's northern neighbor.
"In the past few months alone, we've had to respond to instances of antisemitism by members of the Toronto District School Board and a BDS campaign at the University of Toronto Scarborough student government. These are just examples of what has become routine practice,” Rebecca Katzman, StandWithUs Canada senior campus director stated. “They underscore how critical this ad campaign is in educating about the danger of anti-Jewish bigotry.”
Launched in 2017, JewBelong is dedicated to promoting inclusion around Judaism to welcome people of all denominations and backgrounds. While originally an online resource with easy explanations and meaningful DIY rituals for the practice of Judaism, the organization shifted its focus to combating antisemitism in March 2021.
Founded in 2001 in Los Angeles, StandWithUs works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism and anti-Zionism. The group leverages university fellowships, high school internships, conferences, materials, social media, educational films and missions to Israel to achieve their mission.
StandWithUs has programs on five continents, with chapters and offices throughout the US, in Israel, the UK, Canada and Brazil.
“We are proud to join JewBelong on this awareness campaign," Katzman declared. "Billboards are immediate, visible and impart a message that is quick and easy to understand whether driving down a highway or waiting for public transportation."
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