Israel Advocacy News January 31, 2012: Jewish students react to University of Pennsylvania BDS Conference



Jewish students react to BDS Conference

Hillel representatives plan to spread awareness about Israel in anticipation of the conference

Jewish students plan to use this weekend’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions conference as an opportunity to spread awareness about Israel.

Though many Jewish students see the views of the BDS conference against Israel as inflammatory, they do not plan to respond in a hostile manner.

Friday evening, when the conference is set to kick off, Penn Hillel and other students will have already begun their own programs to “educate and engage with students about Israel,” said College sophomore and Hillel’s Israel Sector Intern Josh Cooper, who is helping to coordinate some of the programs.

However, the activities are not meant to be a “direct response to the BDS conference,” Cooper said. “We don’t want to make [our response] about who can ask the angrier questions, or who can make the louder point.”

On Thursday, Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz will deliver a lecture — titled “Why Israel Matters to You, Me, and Penn” — at the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts. Hillel serves as one of the event’s many sponsors, and over 750 members of the Penn and Philadelphia communities are expected to attend the public lecture, according to Cooper.

The event will comprise of a keynote speech followed by a question-and-answer session. A small dinner reception will precede the lecture, giving campus leaders an opportunity to speak personally with Dershowitz.

Though Dershowitz criticized BDS initiatives as being “far too broad a tactic to be used both fairly and morally,” he still encouraged an open-minded discussion.

“Let’s have a conversation,” he said. “Let’s see if we can change each other’s minds.”…READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News January 16, 2012: Jewish Agency boosts presence abroad to fight delegitimization of Israel at university campuses



Jewish Agency boosts presence abroad to fight delegitimization

Chairman Natan Sharansky believes sending more shlichim to campuses in North America will tilt scales in fight against de-legitimization of Israel

Source: YNet News, 1-16-12

The wave of anti-Israeli criticism sweeping across many countries, including in North America, has prompted the Jewish Agency to significantly increase the number of Shlichim (emissaries) abroad.

These emissaries, who engage in advocacy for the State of Israel, have been a central part of the Jewish Agency’s vision during the past two and a half years.

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“Several years ago I visited abroad and spoke to young Jews,” Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky recalled. “I heard them say things like: ‘For me, a young Jewish liberal, it would have been better if Israel didn’t exist.’ That’s when I understood that what they’re missing is pride in Israel.”

פעילות הסוכנות בקמפוס UF. "זה לא עניין פוליטי" (צילום: באדיבות הסוכנות היהודית)

Jewish Agency activity in University of Florida (Photo: Jewish Agency)

Sharansky decided to act on his hunch, and nowadays some 400 Jewish Agency emissaries are spread across the globe, out of which some 250 are stationed in North America.

Until recently, the shlichim fulfilled a more educational role in the Jewish communities to which they were sent, however events in the past few years, including the Second Lebanon War, Operation Cast Lead, the Gaza blockade and the flotilla raid, compelled the agency to change direction….READ MORE