Why are Canadian Taxpayers Subsidizing Israel’s Military?

Critics say Israel is an army with a country, but it is the apartheid state’s supporters who confirm it. Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University has once again launched an initiative to promote the Israeli military even though it violates charity regulations and risks the group’s special tax status.

In a recent end of year fundraising appeal, a group officially dedicated to the “Advancement of Education” sent its members “Supporting Our Student Soldiers”. The CFHU appeal notes: “The We Are One campaign provides scholarships and academic assistance to our returning IDF soldiers who are courageously fighting in the ongoing war. … Let’s unite to provide education and healing for our IDF warriors, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to their success and recovery.”

With branches in seven Canadian cities, CFHU has instigated a number of other initiatives to support the apartheid state’s military. In 2018 the CFHU branch in the nation’s capital “launched the Ottawa Scholarship Fund in support of reserve duty soldiers studying at The Hebrew University.” At the event, according to CFHU’s annual report, “four students shared their inspiring stories from their military service and explained what it means to be a reserve duty soldier in the IDF.”

A 2019 story on the website of an organization set up by famed liquor bootlegger Alan Bronfman in 1944 noted, “Help CFHU send former IDF combat soldiers to university” while an ongoing funding pitch says, “Donate in support of CFHU’s scholarship campaign for soldiers studying at Hebrew University”. In July 2021 wealthy Calgarian Lenny Shapiro financed a number of CFHU “scholarships for students who have served in the IDF.” CFHU and Hebrew University (HU) matched a portion of Shapiro’s unspecified contribution.

CFHU has partnered with the Duvdevan Foundation on a number of scholarships and public relations initiatives. According to the Duvdevan Foundation, “the Duvdevan Unit was established in June 1986, with the understanding that a specific and intelligent warfare method needed to be developed to deal with Judea and Samaria’s [West Bank] security incidents.” CFHU has organized a number of fundraisers centered on presentations by former soldiers in a unit that regularly kills Palestinians.

To get a sense of how deeply the “charity” is enmeshed with the Israeli military, CFHU meetings have begun with messages from top Israeli Generals.

Beyond instigating initiatives that assist the Israeli military, CFHU funnels many millions of dollars in tax deductible donations to a university that has significant and long-standing ties to the occupation force. A month ago it launched an “Enhanced Extensive Aid Package to HU students serving in the IDF” and a few weeks earlier released a video “message from some our students who are on the front lines” killing Palestinians. During Israel’s violent outburst in 2002 the Jerusalem based school awarded scholarships to students who signed up for IDF combat units and it operates a training centre for military intelligence officers. To maintain the IDF’s technological edge, cadets have studied for degrees in physics, math or computer science at HU for over 40 years. The university provides the IDF with academic information on students enrolled in the Talpiot program. In a story on Talpiot Jason Gewirtz writes, “the opening years of the program saw the students first and foremost as soldiers…. They wore uniforms to their classes at Hebrew University and took shifts guarding Talpiot’s section of the Hebrew University campus.”

In 2019 HU began offering a three-year training for future IDF intelligence officers. Students in the Havatzalot program live in a former university residence only accessible by biometric identification. Regular university employees need advanced permission to enter the area.

Assisting a foreign military violates Canada Revenue Agency rules. According to CRA guidelines, “increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of Canada’s armed forces is charitable, but supporting the armed forces of another country is not.”

Yet between 2017 and 2021 CFHU raised $75 million in tax deductible donations. According to Bloomberg’s list of Canadian charities with the “largest assets in 2019” CFHU had $77 million.

The Canada Revenue Agency must revoke Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University’s charitable status. The public shouldn’t be subsidizing a group illegally supporting a military slaughtering tens of thousands.

Yves Engler is the author of 12 books. His latest book is Stand on Guard for Whom?: A People's History of the Canadian Military . Read other articles by Yves.