At CAMERA’s Student Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference, which started on Sunday afternoon, students have heard several prominent speakers present about the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions groups, and experiences with media bias. Among the speakers was Abir Gitlin, a former CAMERA Fellow and IDF soldier.
Abir Gitlin, a current student at the University of Miami, spoke about the importance of Israel’s standing army, because it’s “there to protect the Jewish people.” Having served both in the K’fir combat unit in Judea and Samaria and in the Spokespersons unit, he said that if one is serving in the IDF, they “know [they’re] doing it for a reason.” Gitlin talked about how he had served in checkpoints in Judea and Samaria during Operation Cast Lead in 2009. He discussed the importance of the IDF to be courteous to Palestinian civilians while at the same time looking out for terrorist threats. Although at the ages of 18 and 19 Gitlin dealt with terrorists, he explained how “nothing can prepare you for dealing with terrorists.”
Students also told interesting and unexpected stories. Chloe Valdary, a CCAP student from the University of New Orleans, said that when she went on her first trip to Israel, while she was in Judea and Samaria, she met with an individual involved in creating partnerships between Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli she met with there said that he met a Palestinian who told him that he “hates Israel and hates America.” Why? Not because of lack of peace and not because of the checkpoints. The reason this Palestinian hated Israel and America was because America forced Israel into a peace deal where Israel had to stop building settlements, so this Palestinian had no work.
While this story may seem amusing to Israel supporters, anti-Israel activists such as BDS supporters, etc., may take this story out of context to create to create a catch-22 for many Palestinians. If Israel withdraws from parts of Judea and Samaria as they are demanding, then Palestinians will be out of work.
Contributed by CAMERA Intern Eli Cohn