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Friday, April 18, 2014

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Israel advocates prove that size doesn’t matter

Tags: Heebonics
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Four young adults are eating dinner together. The two women at the table are bored, with one failing to stifle a yawn. She slips off one of her highheeled shoes and gently caresses the other woman’s leg. On the other side of the table, one of the male diners gets friendly with the guy sitting across from him.

This video, and other s like it, are part of the Size Doesn’t Matter (SDM) campaign created by the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students (CFJS). The goal of the campaign is to reach out to university students and young adults, most of whom are not Jewish and are not interested in Israel and Middle East politics.

Since being uploaded on YouTube Feb. 9, the Israel: Small Country, Big Pride video, showcasing Israel’s progressive attitude toward the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community, has received more than 6,000 views.

The campaign began a year ago, in February 2010, with the creation of the Israel: Small Country, Big Paradise video. The video features a scantily clad couple in bed, with the woman calling something “small,” while staring at her boyfriend’s lap. What she’s actually referring to is a map of Israel. This video has received nearly 400,000 views on YouTube.

Paige MacPherson, vicepresident external of CFJS, says the reaction to the SDM videos has been “fantastic.

“Since the Israel: Small Country, Big Pride video went live, we have been contacted by students at a number of campuses around the world – including at the London School of Economics — who want to use SDM on their campus.”

The reason for the campaign’s success, MacPherson adds, is because it was created for students by students.

“It’s shown to be the single most effective advocacy tool ever executed on Canadian campuses. The success of the SDM campaign shows that thousands of students want to know about Israel beyond the conflict — about Israel’s shared values with Canada, such as women’s rights and LGBTQ rights.”

Rael Katz is the president of Hillel’s Israel Awareness Club at the University of British Columbia. He says the materials provided by SDM have been very useful in attracting UBC’s “predominantly apathetic students.

“SDM has helped us reach out and connect with the many students who are not politically interested. They have provided us with large amounts of informational packages, free giveaways for tabling events, eye-catching posters and slogans and online material that is easy to refer students to. “[The] tabling materials proved very successful in attracting these students to our club’s table. Once that original barrier is crossed, a simple fact or two about Israel’s nightlife, diversity or any other areas SDM touches upon is all that is needed to provide indifferent students with the correct image of Israel.”

Some of the other areas SDM focuses on, both in printed materials and on the website, www.sizedoesntmatter.com, includes Israel’s leadership in the medical, communication and technological fields and the country’s many environmental initiatives, as well as its diversity and stance on gay rights.

SDM’s Small Country, Big Pride video, has been effective in making known Israel’s stance on gay rights, MacPherson says. “

So far, [Small Country, Big Pride] has been a success. Canadians are proud of Canada’s progressive stance on LGBT rights. Taking into consideration that Israel is one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to LGBTQ rights, it is natural that the Size Doesn’t Matter campaign focuses on letting Canadians know about this important shared value.

“We recently ran focus groups on the… video, and the feedback was very positive. Our data and focus groups show that this video is an effective advocacy tool.”

The campaign’s focus on LGBTQ rights made it easy to form a relationship with Pride UBC, a resource group for LGBT students, staff and faculty, Katz says.

“After the launch of SDM, we formed a close relationship wi th Pr ide UBC and hosted a joint event last year. Pride UBC has a strict, nonpolitical mandate, and SDM made it easier to present Israel outside of its politics. Although the event itself was not in conjunction with SDM, the materials helped.”

The focus on Israel from a non-political standpoint has attracted attention from a large number of campuses across the country, says MacPherson.

“The Size Doesn’t Matter campaign has been extremely successful in reaching out to the… students who are not interested in Middle Eastern politics. Many non-Jews are included in this group of newly interested students who want to know about Israel beyond the conflict. “Students enjoy using Size Doesn’t Matter as an advocacy tool and the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students is excited to offer that.”

Check out the SDM videos at www.heebonics.ca.

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