“No day is promised to us. You don’t know what’s going to happen,” said DeLuca. “There’s no reason to hide who you are.”
Last semester, Shai DeLuca, an expert on CityLine and Canada’s number one interior design expert, came to speak at Clark University at an event sponsored and hosted by CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis.
DeLuca’s resounding message is that we never fear being our true selves. His presentation discussed the challenges that many in the Jewish community face as a people with a connection to Israel, the only homeland of the Jewish people.
DeLuca’s story in defense of Zionism is an encouraging one; every person in the room was moved by his story of resilience. “It is really important not to hide,” DeLuca proudly proclaimed.
“The term Zionism has been skewed and weaponized to mean that the Jews are a colonizing people which is the most ridiculous assertion,” DeLuca explained. “I’ve been all about reclaiming the term to its original meaning. Zionism is not about politics, color, religion, or lifestyle. It is just the concept that Jews belong!”
DeLuca has faced many challenges in the Canadian entertainment industry. After various instances of harassment, he finally took steps to make a bold statement. A few years ago, he commissioned a special tattoo on his arm that reads “Am Yisrael Chai,” or “the nation of Israel lives.” DeLuca explained why he did this: a protest against a publicist at his television station. His co-worker regularly targeted DeLuca for his Israeli identity, even requesting that he remove all references to Israel from his social media profile.
“DeLuca’s story in defense of Zionism is an encouraging one; every person in the room was moved by his story of resilience.”
Instead, he looked into the camera each day with the tattoo visible through his short sleeves. It was his way of standing up for himself, no matter the efforts of the publicist who attempted to pressure him to deny a part of his identity.
As a Jew and Zionist myself, I stand by DeLuca’s message. We must take pride in who we are and where we come from and never be afraid to take a stand for what is right, even in the face of injustice – something that is sadly becoming a challenge for Jewish college students everywhere. In December, a Jewish student at McGill University faced antisemitic bullying when the student government urged her to resign if she proceeded to travel to Israel. At American University, a classroom whiteboard had a swastika and the phrase “Go Trump” written on it days after the 2016 Presidential election. Reported drawings of the hate symbol also occurred on the New School’s, William and Mary’s, University of Vermont’s, and the University of Mississippi’s campuses.
In universities across the United States and Canada, students are strong-armed to disavow part of who they are, and Shai’s message to stand strong is inspiring.
A slightly different version of this piece was originally published in The Scarlet.
Contributed by 2019-2020 Clark University CAMERA Fellow Monica Sager.