Two Canadian universities came under criticism this week for banning a poster which is seen to be depicting Israelis as child-killers and accusing Israel of apartheid. Brazilian politicians and scholars, meanwhile, lambasted a recent student exchange accord between Tel Aviv University and a Catholic academy from Sao Paulo.

The posters from Canada, which were banned from Ottawa University and Carleton University, are advertisements for an annual series of events labeled as "Israeli Apartheid Week," due to begin on Monday, March 1. The "Israeli Apartheid Week" tradition began in 2005 in Toronto, spreading since to other campuses and cities.

The poster, circulated by pro-Palestinian activists, depicts a gunship with the word "Israel" on it firing a missile at a boy wearing a kaffiyeh and holding a teddy bear. In explaining the ban, Ottawa University said: "All posters approved must promote a campus culture where all members of the community can play a part in a declaration of human rights."

The poster has roused controversy in Canadian and international press and on campuses, where supporters of Israel said it was unacceptably portraying Israelis as child-killers - an old anti-Semitic theme.

One student from the Ottawa university, who preferred their names be withheld from this article, told Haaretz that the decision to ban the posters was "a blatant violation of free expression for students speaking out on human rights."

Activists also circulated letters and emails with phone numbers for the universities' directors, urging students to call and protest. Pro-Palestinian activist Jessica Carpinone argued that Carleton officials have given "no valid reason for banning the poster other than that it's a controversial issue."

B'nai Brith Canada executive vice-president Frank Dimant praised the universities' action but said the colleges should ban the week's entire "hate fest."

"Israel should be treated as an apartheid state"

Commenting on the student exchange agreement between the Brazilian university and Tel Aviv University, Valter Pomar, foreign relations secretary for Brazil's ruling party, the PT, told Haaretz that "now is not the time for such accords."

The accord was the first signing of a cooperation initiative between a Brazilian and an Israeli university since Israel's operation in Gaza.

Pomar added: "It would be proper to apply to the Israeli government the same treatment that the apartheid government of South Africa had received," said Pomer, who stressed he was speaking in his private capacity and not for the party.

Last month, Pomar cosigned an official announcement by the party accusing Israel of "state terrorism" and comparing its actions in Gaza to Nazi blitzes.

Brazilian priest José Oscar Beozzo, a prominent theologian from Sao Paulo, also indicated his reservations about the exchange deal, citing "Israel's condemnable massacre in Gaza."