HRC / AVI Campus Media Fellow Published In The Algemeiner: Weak National Canadian Identity Is Leading To Democratic Values Backsliding

July 8, 2024

HRC/AVI Campus Media Fellow Zara Nybo, was published in The Algemeiner about how across Canada, university students are assuming pro-Hamas identities — many after reading ill-informed or false information from social media.

In the name of social justice, they are aligning with a cause that approves the intentional targeting of Jewish civilians, calls for the eradication of the world’s only Jewish state, and ignores the fact that Israel is waging one of the lowest civilian-to-combatant casualty wars in the history of armed conflict.


Weak National Canadian Identity Is Leading To Democratic Values Backsliding

By: Zara Nybo

As I sat in an anthropology lecture at the University of British Columbia, we debated the question: What is a unifying national identity for Canadians? In response, I said, “Our national identity is that we aren’t Americans; our identity is contrasted against American identities, for good or for bad.”

Some students laughed, and my professor nodded approvingly. How I wish we could laugh about our lack of Canadian identity today, as we watch university student encampments support the repressive tyrannical terrorist regime Hamas, the antithesis of democracy.

I am not Jewish, but I have watched in awe as the Israel Defense Forces fights to defend the Jewish nation from Hamas, and free the remaining hostages. The parliamentary democracy that governs Israel acts as a beacon of light in the Middle East. The strong national identity that interlocks the state and the people propels the continued hostage rescue operations.

It is my greatest hope that Canada, my country, would feel as strongly in their national responsibility to rescue me, my family, or fellow Canadians if we were ever taken hostage, or if Canada was invaded by a terrorist group. However, I fear that the national Canadian identity would not be strong enough to withstand the international pressure that Israel has withstood to continue the hostage rescue missions.

Across Canada, university students are assuming pro-Hamas identities — many after reading ill-informed or false Instagram posts. In the name of social justice, they are aligning with a cause that approves the intentional targeting of Jewish civilians, calls for the eradication of the world’s only Jewish state, and ignores the fact that Israel is waging one of the lowest civilian-to-combatant casualty wars in the history of armed conflict.

Here in Canada we, as the Gen Z’ers, don’t have a strong national identity. We haven’t grown up with a strong appreciation for our democracy, military, or a high respect for our veterans. Many of us under the age of 30 do not know the words to “O’Canada.” We have taken for granted the freedom that is our democratic right in Canada. I hypothesize that so many of our younger generations have fallen for terrorist propaganda because we lack rootedness in a national backbone.

There is nothing wrong with advocating for civilians in war zones. It’s exactly because of our democratic freedoms that we can have differing dialogues around war. But what is taking place on campuses is not pro-peace, pro-innocent civilians, pro-hostage release, or pro-democratic values.

These university encampments are anti-peace and they promote hatepropaganda, and terrorism. Before our eyes, since the Oct. 7th massacre carried out by Hamas, many university students have sided with the terrorist organization.

I am nearly infuriated to the point of tears most days, in what feels like a never-ending battle of terrorist propaganda being shared by my leftist friends. I have always been a politically center-left person, but as the left moves further to the extremist side, I feel the need to call this extremism out.

As a non-Jewish Canadian university student, I have had enough of this childish behavior. If we want to be treated like adults, we need to act like them. As silly as that sounds, my peers are using their democratic rights to advocate for a terrorist group. A terrorist group who would kill us if given the chance.

Without a strong national backbone, we have lost ourselves to incompetent “social justice” causes that cease to make rational or logical sense. Canadian democratic values are about peace, respect, and diversity. Hamas is a radical Islamist military movement that does not believe in equal rights for men and women, let alone LGBTQ+ individuals. It does not make democratic sense to advocate for a terrorist group who are fanatical Islamic extremists.

Intense false realities have been created by the extreme left that fantasize and romanticize terrorists as resistance fighters — a desperate attempt to create a false narrative that implicates Israel as the terrorist organization. Instead of calling for accountability and disbandment of Hamas, the blame has been unfairly placed on Israel. These dangerous terrorist-sympathizing ideologies need to be met with harsh repercussions, as the democratic values of future adult Canadians rest in the balance.

Many of us on the left have lived in fear of falling victim to cancel culture, and have instead allowed the extremism on the left to grow. The hypocrisy and privilege of these protestors have stripped them of their credibility for a social justice movement.

Putting up signs stating “F*** KKKANANDA” at the University of British Columbia, painting “F*** Quebec” in Montreal on the face of a new Holocaust museum poster, and chanting “Death to America” on campuses, is life or death for Western democratic values.

The (false) colonial narrative about Israel has become dizzyingly amplified on campuses, commonly stating that Israel is a colonizer of the land and the Palestinians are the oppressed. Instead, the ancestral and Indigenous right of Jewish return is the ultimate act of decolonization.

The intense leftist approach to teaching makes race the center of every issue, causing students to view indigeneity and colonization in simplified forms without historical context. I am an Arts student who has always been politically and socially left, and an active feminist.

However, I have been inundated with intense frameworks of colonialism, racism, and intersectionality since beginning my undergraduate studies — and these claims are not always based in historical reality.

I never thought I would write these words, but I am dismayed by how my leftist peers are acting, and it is becoming more extreme every day. They are acting like puppets for terrorism, amplifying propaganda and disinformation about what occurred on Oct 7th.

I do not want to live in a society that denies rape, denies accountability, and denies basic human rights to Israelis and Jewish people. I love that my friends in the LGBTQIA2S+ community get to live freely here in Canada and that my friends who choose to receive an abortion for personal or life-saving reasons, can do so. Also, as a woman, I can live equally in a society that promotes my human rights. None of these rights are awarded by Hamas in the society they govern. With the privileged position of having access to basic human rights, I am thankful to call myself a Canadian citizen.

If we don’t fight for our Canadian democratic values, we will be flattened by external forces. It is time to build and cultivate a strong national backbone that holds us accountable for upholding our country. Maybe we will one day be able to look back with humor on this dark period in academic spaces that have allowed this ideology to foster. Until then, we must fight for our country to remain the “True North, strong and free.” If we stand for nothing, we will fall for everything.

As a Gen-Z Canadian, I refuse to allow my peers to degrade our freedoms by romanticizing terrorism.

Zara Nybo is a student at the University of British Columbia, and a Campus Media Fellow with HonestReporting Canada and Allied Voices for Israel.

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