The University of Haifa has awarded an honorary doctorate to the Canadian film producer Robert Lantos in recognition of his firm and uncompromising support for the State of Israel and his struggle against anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and the BDS movement.
Lantos was awarded the degree at a special evening event held in his honor by the Toronto Friends of Haifa University. During the evening, some 100 scholarships were awarded for Israel Online Ambassadors, the only academic program in Israel that provides training in online outreach work for Israel.
Over the years, Lantos has been involved in the production of dozens of cinema and television movies, including David Cronenberg’s films Existenz and Crash, Never Talk to Strangers, Where the Truth Lies, Barney’s Version, and many others. In recent years Lantos has spoken out firmly and clearly against the activities of the BDS movement and has fought against phenomena of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
“As Jews, we are currently fighting two wars. The first is a war against missiles and guns directed at the State of Israel. The second is a war of words, led by the BDS movement, that reached its peak at the festival of hatred known as Israel Apartheid Week,” Lantos explained, speaking to over 550 guests at the event, including leading members of the Canadian Jewish community. “For the past half century,” he continued, “while we sat comfortably here in Canada, it was easy and convenient for us to believe that hatred of Jews is a thing of the past. But we can’t stick our heads in the sand any longer.”
During his comments Lantos fiercely criticized the recent comments by leading members of the British Labour Party. He pointed out that while 15 years ago no-one would have imagined making such remarks, today the punishment they receive is “a mild rebuke and plenty of public sympathy.”
Lantos described his last visit to the University of Haifa a few months ago. He met with students from the Online Ambassadors program and was impressed by their activities on social media as part of the struggle against the delegitimization and dehumanization of Israel.
In his remarks, Haifa University President Amos Shapira also praised the program, which he described as a model for the struggle against the anti-Israel boycott. “The program not only provides tools and academic knowledge in such fields as diplomacy, conflict management, and multiculturalism, but more importantly it encourages our students to be socially active and to take responsibility for their lives,” Shapira noted.
In addition to his introduction to the Online Ambassadors program, Lantos said that he was no less impressed by the unique atmosphere on the campus. “You only need to spend a few hours on the wonderful campus of the University of Haifa to refute the lies about Israel as an Apartheid state. Jewish, Arab, and Druze students are together everywhere – in classrooms, in the cafeteria, and on the lawn. Everyone enjoys the same treatment and the same education. There is no difference in the way they treat Jews or Arabs and there is no sign of any particular tension between them. Life on campus reflects everyday life in Israel,” he concluded.