Since watching the interview with Heather Reisman and reading the article/comments here at The Red Chair, my curiosity regarding HESEG has been peaked. I had never heard of the organisation before reading about it here. This had me wondering a few things. Why my favourite host/program would not touch upon what seemed to be a hot political issue? Why not take the opportunity to have this conversation? It was my fear that The Hour was getting soft and avoiding controversial issues in favour of appeasing A-list guests to garner higher ratings. The old adage every one sells out eventually popped into my head and I could feel my heart breaking. The idea that one of my altars of worship might be avoiding the topic propelled me to do a little reading, to satisfy my own curiosity.
The first thing I noticed was that it is difficult to find main stream press on this subject. If you, dear readers, are aware of a reporter out there that has written an unbiased report on this organisation please comment so I can read more on HESEG. I mention unbiased because other than wiki I was unable to find one strictly fact based article regarding HESEG. The articles against outnumbered the articles in favour of, by far. The more I read, the more I came to realise that this foundation was not being looked at as a scholarship opportunity, but being tied in with political, social and religious issues that should be kept separate and apart from education. Then again I am an idealist and great at compartmentalising things.
The Anti-HESEG articles all focused on the biased view point that HESEG is supporting Israeli Apartheid. This is only one political view of a very complicated war, and is not what the scholarship program was established to do. The people receiving the scholarships are former soldiers, receiving an education to move on in a career and a life separate from the military. A former soldier is just that; no longer in the military, hence the term former. So, these arguments that HESEG supports the military are invalid in my book. The argument that only Jews can apply for the scholarship is valid, but doesn’t perturb me. HESEG appears to be a charitable organisation run by Jews for Jews. I hardly find this shocking. There are many scholarships around the world that come from business owners, social clubs, etc., that support a certain ethnicity, gender, age, area of study or club membership as a requirement for application.
There were a few other articles by religious leaders with the opposite bias in supporting both HESEG and the state of Israel; as well as an article in the Jerusalem Post. In my opinion they supported HESEG for the same reasons that others opposed it; social, political and religious beliefs. This again leaves us with a biased report on a foundation that seemed to have had a simple idea that then became mired in the trappings of other issues.
I came to the conclusion that thus far in my education on the foundation, I have more questions than answers. I’ve also come to think that this may not be a public political issue. Perhaps this is a personal choice based on Ms. Reisman’s experience and views on society, politics and faith. Which leads me to the question of whether the funding for HESEG comes from the Indigo coffers or the CEO’s salary? I was not able to establish this searching the various sites that came up through Google. There is a difference in my opinion.
The salary that Heather Reisman earns as a CEO should be viewed as any other person’s. The charities that I choose to support are personal and private. I choose to support those charities based on my life experience and my social, political and faith based views. Most people do base their charitable contributions on similar criteria. If Reisman has set up this charity with her own salary, then she has every right to do so as long as no laws are broken. She is entitled to that choice whether or not other individuals agree. Just as the charities you volunteer for, donate money to, organise etc., are your private affair.
If the money is coming directly from that company, like the Chapter’s-Indigo love of reading foundation, then the board of directors and shareholders have a right to investigate. They can then discuss and vote on whether or not that charity fits with the image of their company. If they choose to then support that charity, then it is up to us as consumers to decide whether or not we want to support that business. Just as we decide whether or not to shop green, or made in Canada, or Fair Trade. We base our consumer choices on all sorts of ideologies every day. In the end it’s up to Ms. Reisman to decide if she wants to educate the public on her personal, or possibly public-business, charities; just as it is up to us to decide if we wish to support that business with our hard earned dollars.
I remember hearing George and other staff at The Hour claim that they respect people’s right to differing views and opinions. It is my hope that that is why they decided, at this time, to not delve into a topic that would require an in-depth conversation all of its own and not just a few seconds during that particular interview. I am suggesting that they offer Ms. Reisman an opportunity to sit with George and answer some questions regarding her charitable organisations, including HESEG. I’m sure the ratings could take it and the viewers would learn something as the set-up could include information from ‘both sides’. If Ms. Reisman does not have time for an on-air interview in her busy schedule perhaps issuing a statement linked to The Hour’s forum page would allow viewer’s to discuss the subject in a moderated environment where facts and mutual respect for opposing opinions are part of the rules.
All-in-all, I think I’d like to keep learning more about Ms. Reisman’s charity. As I said in my comment on LaBeauvoir’s article, I am a Chapter’s fan, so if my money is part of her companies charitable works, and if HESEG is one of those charities, I’d like to know. Taking all of the information into account I would then be able to make a decision on whether or not to keep including her company on my approved list. Big thanks to LaBeauvoir, once again, for bringing this to my attention in the first place.