The CAMERA Fellowship supports student leaders in developing and strengthening their pro-Israel activism on campus. With the school year about the begin, InFocus is giving you an inside look into who lives of our 2016-17 CAMERA Fellows, who will be working hard to promote the facts about Israel on campus.
Meet Bar Fabian.
A rising sophomore at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar Fabian is studying International Relations and Communications.
Originally from Emek Chefer, Israel, Bar drafted into the Israel Defense Forces after high school. Rather than just fulfilling his obligatory service of three years, he also chose to attend Officer’s School and served as an officer in the IDF’s Artillery Unit in Southern Israel, mostly by the Gazan border. Before entering university, Bar also worked for a year as coordinator of a youth program.
In addition to being a leader for CAMERA at Hebrew U and an active member of his campus AEPI chapter, Bar is also involved in various off-campus groups. This past year, Bar was a Fellow with StandWithUs. He also volunteers at an organization that works towards the eradication of discrimination and racism in secondary schools in Jerusalem.
Below is a short Q+A session with Bar explaining his particular interest in Israel advocacy, the role of CAMERA in his work as an Israel activist, and touching upon his experience at CAMERA’s Annual Student Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference:
Q: Why do you feel it is important to be involved in Israel advocacy as Israelis? If you already live in a country that is Jewish and allows you to be openly Jewish, how is Israel advocacy relevant here?
Bar: As Israelis, its even more important to be involved in Israel advocacy and promoting a good name for Israel. Because we live the harsh day-to-day reality of life in Israel, we become apathetic to the terror attacks and anti-Zionism occurring around the world. Hatred and violence, which should not be accepted as the norm, becomes normal to us. As a citizen that lives in and experiences Israel, I can see the country for its good things and also for its bad. With an inside perspective on Israel as an Israeli, I need to expose the truth. The accurate side of the story needs to be shown in order to disprove the mess of the distorted media which is reported throughout the world, and even within Israel.
In addition, after my army service I traveled to different parts of the world, and by speaking with people from different cultures, I realized how much more there is to learn about Israel and even more so, how little people know about the real face of Israel.
In order to learn and educate, CAMERA is exactly what Israelis need. CAMERA is a platform for people to investigate the news about Israel and to better understand the conflict in an objective, honest light.
Together with delegations of students that come from abroad and meet with students at Hebrew University, we are able to create connections and real, dynamic dialogue bridging the two different worlds and realities. The collaboration between Israelis and non-Israelis deepens the conversation about Israel.
Q: What would you say are the biggest or most surprising differences in terms of what you have to deal with as Israelis as opposed to American Jewry in terms of your identity and dealing with anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism?
Bar: There is a difference between how American students versus Israelis take action and envision advocating for Israel.
Americans fight through organizations against anti-Zionist movements that are on different campuses. This is incredibly important work that the American students do.
Whereas, here in Israel, we try “to fight” the indifference of the overall student body’s attitude, and to inspire students to be more active and involved in Israel advocacy.
Q: What surprises you or have you learnt from American college students involved in Israel advocacy? What do you think Israelis can learn from American college students?
Bar: Throughout the conference, I was exposed to this great community of active and creative students that take their role as Israel activists very seriously. I was inspired by how they take initiative and how they manage to influence their fellow students through their creative work and dedication.
Overall, the American students are sharp-minded, diligent, and active in their Israel advocacy groups on an exemplary level. At the conference, I felt a sense of unity and shared goals among all the Israel activists throughout campuses in America, Canada, and the UK.
By attending the conference, I was able to meet the extended CAMERA family, and this gave me a lot of motivation for future collaboration.
Q: And vice versa, what do you think American Jews and Israel activists can learn from you? What do you think surprises them most about your identity or cultural difficulties as an Israeli?
Bar: I was surprised by the extent of criticism of Israel and anti-Zionism abroad. But I was also surprised by the strength of campus Israel advocacy, which is well developed and diverse. While many students will follow a one-sided “truth” that Israel is bad, Israel advocates show many different sides and explain Israel fully and completely.
Israel activists explain the many sides of Israel, they are able to focus their ideas together in order to convey what the Israeli reality truly is–they cover all the aspects and issues regarding Israel advocacy and present the whole of Israel.
Contributed by CAMERA Intern Penina Simkovitz.