Interview with Franke Aviv: SSI of Ryerson University

Ryerson University: Frankie Aviv

Leor Saghian: So, tell us a little about yourself — where are you from, what are you studying?

Frankie Aviv: Well, I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. I am in my third year at Ryerson University, which is located in Toronto, and I am studying to become a social worker.

LS: Have you been to Israel before?

FA: I have been to Israel a total of five times. I went twice with NCSY, once as a highschooler and once as a trip advisor, I went with Onward Israel, I also went with my family for a vacation and lastly, I took a gap year in Israel at Midreshet Harova.

LS: How did you get involved with SSI? And why did you get involved?

FA: During my gap year in Israel, I got in touch with another social worker major, Rebecca Katzman, who was very involved with Students Supporting Israel (SSI) at Ryerson, and is now the director for StandWithUs in Canada, to ask questions about my major. When I moved back to Canada, I attended more SSI events and eventually became a member of the board. This year, as I became the External Vice President for my SSI chapter, I am now more involved than I ever was before. I decided to join SSI because after living in Israel for a year, I became more passionate about Israel so joining the club was another way to connect to my roots of being Jewish and Israeli and it was also a great way to meet more people who shared my passion.

LS: What would you like to see your campus turn into?

FA: In an ideal world, I would love to see others be more educated about Israel and not always believing what the media puts out there. A lot of students at Ryerson are very biased towards what the media says so they jump to conclusions about a lot of information and never hear the other side of the story. I want to see other students learning about Israel’s narrative, in order to be more educated on the topic.

LS: What’s been hard dealing with on your campus, and why?

FA: What has been hard dealing with is the individual moments people experience with anti-semitism at Ryerson, such as anti-Israel remarks in class. During one-on-one conversations people always argue back because they only hear what is exposed in the news and do not know the whole story which makes it difficult for us to advocate for Israel. In addition to this, some professors lower our grades on some assignments for being a Zionist.

LS: At many SSI campuses, this last week was apartheid week so what would you do if you had an apartheid week and why do you feel that it is important to show that there is another side to these issues?

FA: If Ryerson University participated in apartheid week, I would have booths and tabling events that portray the Israeli narrative. This way we could engage with people walking around campus and educate them casually.

LS: What has worked well on your campus, and why?

FA: On our campus, our tabling events have been very successful because they happen during school events so the tablings allow for better engagement with other students as well as having one-on-one conversations with each other about Israel.

LS: What kind of impact has SSI, and pro-Israel activism (in-general) had on you throughout school?

FA: SSI has given me a sense of community through all the great people I met through here. I also have a better opportunity to learn more about Israel as well as a sense of security to share the Israeli side of the story.

LS: If you have any advice for the rest of the SSI’ers across the country, what would it be?

FA: I would say to get involved as much as possible, seek conversations and moments to engage with others and lastly build coalitions with other clubs and other people. This will really help in trying to make SSI bigger on  your individual campus.

LS: Where do you see yourself 5-10 years from now?

FA: I see myself being in the social worker field, doing research, and being involved in pro-Israel organizations!

About the Author
Leor Saghian is a first year student at Santa Monica College majoring in Psychology and is part of the local Students Supporting Israel chapter. Currently, Leor serves as an intern for the national SSI Movement as a publisher and blogger. Leor's family is originally from Iran and following the revolution, immigrated to the United States and Israel.