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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A voice behind the headlines : the public relations of the Canadian Jewish Congress during World War II Lucky, Nathan


This thesis examines the public relations campaigns of the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) during World War II within the framework of agenda setting theory. As the voice of Canadian Jewry, the CJC implemented a sophisticated public relations strategy that brought attention to their causes in the non-Jewish press. From September 1939, the CJC capitalized on the patriotic atmosphere fostered by the war and the Canadian government. In a data-driven publicity campaign that would last the war, the CJC systematically both encouraged and tracked war efforts among Canadian Jews to fuel patriotic stories about Jews that improved their reputation. After it became clear in the summer of 1942 that the Nazis had begun exterminating Jews in Occupied Europe, the CJC started an awareness campaign in the non-Jewish press. Congress organized a mass rally in Montreal, Toronto, and Winnipeg that leveraged their patriotic reputation and brought both immediate and lasting coverage of Jewish extermination. By the spring of 1943, Congress believed they could persuade Canadians to rescue a number of refugees. To prevent an antisemitic backlash, they worked behind the scenes with their ally, the Canadian National Committee for Refugees (CNCR) and the activist professor, Watson Thomson, on a press campaign that convinced both the public and Canadian government that Canada needed to rescue refugees in the name of common humanity.

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