The CAMERA on Campus ninth annual international leadership conference was held from the evening of August 11-16 in Boston, USA. Close to a dozen UK students and a number of Israeli students were in attendance this year. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), was founded in 1982 for the purpose of promoting accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East. CAMERA on Campus extends this mission of transparency in its cooperation with students across university campuses in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland and Israel.
According to the London-based Community Security Trust, which has been recording incidents since the early 1980s, the first six months of this year saw a record high total of 892 anti-Semitic incidents in the United Kingdom, and university campuses sadly no exception to these hostile trends. I am a recent graduate of King’s College London, where just earlier this year, the Student Union officially backed a protest that openly mourned 19 dead Hamas, PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), Fatah, and Islamic Jihad Terrorists. Fortunately, the work of CAMERA on Campus plays a critical role in filling the glaring knowledge gaps, and countering the overt, powerful, and highly organized and funded anti-Israel activities on university campuses. Aaron Seitler, incoming CAMERA Fellow at University College London, reflected on the conference “I felt it gave me the opportunity for vague good intentions of Israel activism to materialize as concrete plans for stalls and events.”
As the incoming UK Campus Associate for CAMERA, I was struck by the conference’s breadth and variety of speakers, and its focus on the importance of accuracy in perceptions of Zionism and Israel in Jewish communities and beyond; the ethnic and religious diversity of students and speakers in attendance was a testament to that mission. Daniel Marcus, Fellow for the University of Nottingham noted that “The diverse range of expert guests provided a level of depth to this conference that I haven’t seen before. It was extremely well planned out and you could tell.” In particular, the conference’s writing and debate workshops were successful in training students to both hone their skills in the pursuit of busting historical myths and outright deceit surrounding Israel’s history and politics, whilst not forgetting the need for students to produce entertaining and engaging writing.
Tamir fights for the truth in Israel
As an Israeli who has had some knowledge of the antisemitic acts occurring on many campuses outside of Israel, I was unaware of how difficult it was to be an outspoken supporter of Israel. The conference has taught me a lot, not only by the diversity and knowledge of the speakers, but the students taking part in the conference, talking to them and understanding the circumstances on their campuses. The average Israeli student does not know how much effort the many students abroad take to fight for them and for the legitimacy of the Jewish state of Israel’s existence. The conference experience opened my eyes. The many students that attended the conference have motivated me to get their efforts known on Israeli campuses and work to support them so we can be proud to be living in the state of Israel.
Similar to the UK campuses, as a CAMERA Fellow on my campus at Tel Aviv University, I am working together with CAMERA Fellows at IDC Herziliya to plan events on campus illustrating the efforts taken by our fellow peers on campuses outside of Israel, as well as hone the knowledge of the students at our universities in Israel.
Aviva Rosenschein, CAMERA’s director of international campuses, reflected on the conference, “Each year, I learn more and more valuable insight from our student activists. I feel privileged to work with some of the most intelligent and motivated Zionists across the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland and Israel. It is the students who inspire the work of CAMERA on Campus.” CAMERA on Campus will host a further student conference this October, in order to provide further training to its UK and Ireland- based organizations.
To keep in touch with CAMERA’s work and its student opportunities, visit their website at cameraoncampus.org, and follow them @CAMERAonCampus on twitter and at www.facebook.com/cameraoncampusuk
A different version of this article was published in The Times of Israel.
Contributed by CAMERA on Campus’ UK Associate Georgia Leigha Leatherdale Gilholy and 2019-2020 Tel Aviv University CAMERA Fellow Tamir Feinstein.
Click here to read this post in Hebrew.