Israel Advocacy News May 6, 2013: Pro-Israel group StandWithUs to launch new Metro-North ads

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Pro-Israel group to launch new Metro-North ads

Source: The Journal News | LoHud.com, 5-6-13

This time, StandWithUs, an Israel advocacy and education group, is countering recent advertisements that compared Israel’s government to apartheid and called for the United States to stop aid to Israel….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News March 8, 2013: Positive activities counter “Israel Hate Week” on Illinois campuses

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Positive activities counter “Israel Hate Week” on Illinois campuses

Source: Jewish United Fund, 3-8-13

Every year campuses throughout the country, including Illinois, are confronted with an organized week of events aimed at delegitimizing Israel. Labeled “Israel Apartheid Week” and arranged by anti-Israel organizations….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News March 8, 2013: Israelis combat Apartheid Week with words

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Israelis combat Apartheid Week with words

Source: The Catholic Register, 3-8-13

A week before Israeli Apartheid Week is set to send Canadian universities into their annual turmoil over the Middle East, a group of young Israelis are storming campuses armed with a capacity for conversation….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News February 19, 2013: Creating A New Vision For Israel On Campus at Brandeis University’s Visions for Israel in an Evolving World (bVIEW)

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Creating A New Vision For Israel On Campus

On Jan. 27, Aaron David Miller, a Middle East analyst and an adviser to six secretaries of state, spoke to arguably the most important people in the American Jewish community. They were not lay leaders, rabbis or presidents of Jewish organizations.

Miller spoke to 250 students from more than 15 universities who were gathered at Brandeis University for the first Brandeis Visions for Israel in an Evolving World (bVIEW) conference. Those who came to Brandeis were not ordinary students; they were leaders of organizations, many of which were pro-Israel groups, at their universities….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News February 5, 2013: Which campuses are problematic?

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Which campuses are problematic?

Source: Jerusalem Post (blog), 2-5-13

Last year AICE published the study, Israel and the Campus: The Real Story, which exploded a number of misconceptions about Israel and the universities. We found, for example, that anti-Israel activity has not changed dramatically since the late 1960s….READ MORE

 

Israel Advocacy News August 9, 2012: ‘StandWithUs’ Launches New Israel Advocacy Program for Teens

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‘StandWithUs’ Launches New Israel Advocacy Program for Teens

Source: Arutz Sheva, 8-9-12

The pro-Israel education and advocacy group StandWithUs is launching a new program aimed at training teenagers from around the United States to become leaders on their future college campuses….READ MORE

StandWithUs launching new Israel advocacy training for teenagers

Source: The Jewish Journal of Greater L.A., 8-8-12

The pro-Israel education and advocacy group StandWithUs is launching a new program to help train 48 teenagers from around the U.S….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News August 9, 2012: Need an Israel Advocacy Idea? Ask Herzl

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Need an Israel Advocacy Idea? Ask Herzl

Source: Jerusalem Post, 8-9-12

When it launches next month, Ask Herzl will serve as a resource for Israel advocates who want “ready to run” programs for their campuses….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News May 16, 2012: A Look Back: 2011-2012 in Campus Israel Advocacy

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A Look Back: 2011-2012 in Campus Israel Advocacy

Source: Israel Campus Beat, The Jewish Press, 5-16-12

israel+in+the+mirror
Photo Credit: Israel Campus Beat

UN vote reactions. BDS efforts. Anti-Israel Conferences. Gilad Shalit’s release. Social media advocacy. Failed and successful collaborations.

It’s been an eventful year on campus, and through it all, Israel Campus Beat has been reporting on the Israel-on-campus reality. Here’s a look at the 2011-2012 academic year through the keen eyes of ICB.

In the Beginning

The year began with the debate over Palestinian statehood at the UN General Assembly (GA) in September. In preparation for the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) bid for statehood at the GA, Hillel’s Center for Israel Engagement led an initiative, Tents for Israel, to educate students about Israel and enable them to ask questions about Israel in a secure space.

Even prior to Hillel’s initiative, however, the Israel on Campus Coalition and partners launched the Real Partners. Real Peace (RPRP) campaign in July to prepare students on campus to deal with questions about the Palestinian statehood bid. The RPRP campaign promoted the need for direct negotiations between responsible partners to end the conflict by encouraging students to write op-eds on campus, circulate petitions, and undertake other efforts to raise awareness in the campus community. At the launch, students gathered from across the nation, sharing ideas for effective campus advocacy, and used ideas from their discussions not only for the RPRP campaign but also for larger Israel advocacy efforts. To help spread the campaign and keep students connected, RPRP relied heavily on social networking, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media Advocacy

Social media was a major tool for Hasbara Fellowships, who created the “Friend Request Pending” campaign (as part of RPRP). Using Facebook as their theme, Hasbara created a YouTube video to spread the message that Israel wants to become “friends” with Jordan, Egypt, Palestine and others, but the friendship requests are rejected.

Activists on other campuses, such as Brandeis University, have also used video to promote pro-Israel messages. Other students attended the David Project’s Video Production Seminar back in November to learn more about promoting Israel through video; one video, created by a David Project video intern, has been viewed more than 20,000 times.

Social media is quickly becoming a top tool for Israel advocacy. When IDF soldier Gilad Shalit’s release (after more than five years in captivity) was announced in October, Israel supporters turned to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread the good news and share their support. Campus Israel groups use Facebook and Twitter to keep students informed of upcoming meetings and events on campus. Students are taking advantage of the technology of the 21st century and using it for Israel advocacy.

Reaching Out

As important as social media is, it does not replace the fundamental need for building relationships. In the past year, pro-Israel students have sought to establish relationships with pro-Palestinian student groups, though the efforts are fraught with challenges. Early in the school year, ICB reported on a coalition between Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Noles for Israel (NFI) at Florida State University (FSU). Such efforts are so rare that they can seem too good to be true, and in this case, it was. A mere month after the start of this new, hopeful coalition, FSU’s SJP invited Norman Finkelstein, a notoriously anti-Israel speaker, to campus and the partnership ended bitterly.

A successful partnership, however, blossomed this year at a different Florida university. At the University of Miami, an MZ-Grinspoon Intern started a new pro-Israel organization on campus, the I-Team, that includes Jewish, Palestinian and Christian members who work together harmoniously.

Countering anti-Israel Sentiment

In response to a conference at the University of Pennsylvania that sought to advance the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) effort, Israel supporters galvanized to offer a broad range of activities designed to counter the anti-Israel activity. Student activists from all over traveled to Penn to engage students in discussions about Israel. With Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz as the keynote speaker and over 800 students attending Friday night dinners devoted to discussing the conflict, the effort succeeded in creating a positive view of Israel on campus and yielded an Ivy League joint leadership statement condemning the BDS movement.

Later in the year, Dershowitz shared his views with ICB about the Harvard University student conference in March, entitled “Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution.” Student activists and the professionals who support them have learned a lot from the encounters with anti-Israel activity on and off the campus over the past year. But the most prominent lessons to be learned may be the importance of building and maintaining coalitions and partnerships with diverse groups.

The Collaboration Key

Israel groups are learning that their events are most successful and best received when they utilize cross-cultural programming that engages a wide cross-section of the campus community. Long gone are the days when Jewish students are seen as the only Israel advocates; nowadays, Israel advocates span a broad spectrum of diverse backgrounds, whether they are Christians who are trained on a summer tour or students who attend advocacy leadership training in Texas, Jewish and Latino students in a coalition at the University of Texas, or non-Jewish fraternity brothers keen on helping their Jewish fraternity brothers advocate for Israel on campus.

The 2011-2012 academic year has been filled with ideas, challenges, and successes for the campus Israel community. Israel advocates have strengthened their resolve to build partnerships and share information, and they have become increasingly aware of the many organizations and networks that are available to assist them.

Israel advocates can reflect on a successful year of activity, but are not wasting time to plan for the future. Summer offers many opportunities to gain insights and build skills that will serve Israel on the nation’s campuses next fall, when the cycle begins again.

Israel Advocacy News April 19, 2012: Israeli Harvard University students take to ‘Hasbara’ Israel Conference

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Israeli Harvard students take to ‘Hasbara’

After Harvard hosts controversial “One-State Solution” conference, Israelis try to change students’ perceptions on home country.

Source: Jerusalem Post, 4-19-12

Harvard University Photo: Thinkstock

Israeli students at Harvard University have long felt that many aspects of their country get overlooked in the campus dialogue. This week, they hope that will change.

Last month, Harvard students hosted the controversial ‘One-State Solution’ conference. But long before that meeting took place, a group of Israeli Harvard students has been hard at work planning a two-day inaugural Israel Conference at Harvard to shine a light on the reality of Israel.

On April 19 and 20, a group of non-partisan Israeli Harvard students will gather to feature a confab of top leaders in Israeli discourse and innovation to promote another face of Israel.

The conference will feature panels that focus on innovations in technology, medicine, humanitarian aid, culture and peace. Featured speakers in the conference include Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer and Dennis Ross, who worked under multiple US presidents to advance the peace process.

Israeli and Palestinian pundits will examine the status of economic development initiatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories. In addition to these experts, Harvard professors and Israeli academics will give their input on the topic.

Aside from the entrepreneurial focus, the conference will feature the results of the Avi Schaefer Peace Innovation Challenge, in which Harvard students developed ideas aimed at bridging the gap between Israeli and Palestinian societies. The author of the winning idea will be awarded a prize of $1,000. The idea of the initiative is to propel the conversation further instead of remaining in the deadlock in which most campuses find themselves.

The winner will be announced on Friday….READ MORE

Israel Advocacy News April 19, 2012: With new class, University of California Berkley grad furthers her pro-Israel battle

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With new class, Cal grad furthers her pro-Israel battle

Source: JWeekly, 4-19-12

At her upcoming workshops, co-leader Jessica Felber will stand before Jewish high school students, work herself up into a minor rage and harp about the Zionist entity being an apartheid state.

Not that she believes it.

The longtime pro-Israel advocate simply will be offering the students a taste of what may be in store for them once they get to college and face anti-Israel campus activism.

A 2010 graduate of U.C. Berkeley, Felber remembers what it was like for her and other Jewish students to endure the annual Israel Apartheid Week, when protestors carrying toy assault weapons set up mock checkpoints on campus.

That’s one reason she has helped organize “Step Up for Israel,” a series of three one-day pro-Israel education and advocacy training programs set to take place over the next month. The first is scheduled for Sunday, April 22 at Beth Jacob Congregation in Oakland.

Jessica Felber

Jessica Felber

The workshops are co-sponsored by the pro-Israel advocacy organizations StandWithUs and JerusalemOnlineU.com.

After graduating from U.C. Berkeley, Felber moved to Los Angeles last year to become the West Coast director of Jerusalem Online U. This past February, she attended the Young Zionist Leadership Conference, a large gathering held in Florida and sponsored by the World Zionist Congress.

It was through her work with Jerusalem OnlineU, a Jewish education Web portal, that Felber dreamed up the workshop to teach high school students, especially seniors bound for college, how to respond to anti-Israel hate speech.

Each four-hour workshop will split into two tracks, one for the teens and another for their parents (or any other interested adult).

Sessions in each track will include lectures, educational film screenings and hands-on advocacy training taught by StandWithUs Bay Area campus staffers Guy Herschmann and Matthew White, along with prominent local pro-Israel activists Mike Harris and Ealon Joelson. Felber will run the teen portion.

As one teaching technique, workshop leaders will mimic the anti-Israel invective college students hear routinely on campus.

“We’ll show them Occupation 101,” said Felber. “This is so they can hear the arguments from anti-Israel people. The real purpose is to motivate and inspire them to learn more and give them practice before college.”

If Felber’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she was in the news before. In the wake of a 2010 incident during Israel Apartheid Week, Felber filed suit last year against U.C. Berkeley, its president and chancellor, as well as the Associated Students of the University of California.

At the time, she was co-president of the pro-Israel campus group Tikvah, which she co-founded.

Felber alleges that a pro-Palestinian protestor intentionally rammed her with a shopping cart, causing her injury.

The lawsuit has languished in the courts, with the judge dismissing some aspects and asking Felber’s attorneys to amend the complaint. But she says the suit is still in progress, and that she’s already seen results because of her legal action.

“This year at U.C. Berkeley’s Israel Apartheid Week, there were no realistic assault weapons,” she said, “which was not the case for a decade. That had been a huge cause of fear.”

Felber said that although she is suing for monetary damages, her true motivation for the suit is “to get the universities to be aware of what’s going on on campus and try to get them to change it.”

A native of San Diego, Felber grew up attending Jewish day schools, and pro-Israel advocacy was always important to her. Even before attending her first class at Cal, she says she was prepared for pro-Palestinian demonstrations on Sproul Plaza, the heckling of Israeli guest speakers and advocacy for Israel boycotts.

It was that tense and hostile atmosphere on campus that made her want to take up the pro-Israel cause all the more.

“That’s in part what drew me [to U.C. Berkeley],” she said. “I came in fairly confident, and was willing to stand up and defend Israel from the start. But I also know how difficult it is for other people to do that.”