Fighting for Israel in the academic trenches can be likened to fighting a war with a waning ammunition supply. Pro-Israel activists are generally outnumbered and face a ruthlessly effective “pro-Palestinian” public relations campaign that centers on delegitimizing and demonizing Israel. My recent Israel trip with CAMERA will change the dynamics of this battle at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and wherever I encounter anti-Israel bias, because of the academic and geographical knowledge gained in addition to the social connections formed with other activists.
During this trip, speakers such as Dr. Kedar and Mr. Regev used their expert knowledge to provide insights into commonly misreported issues such as the Iran and Syrian crises. Their lectures brought attendees up to speed with the knowledge gathered from top sources, far more detailed than the eclectic news sources available in the United States. My “ah-ha” moments were frequent, and attention permanently focused. In retrospect, I can’t believe my good fortune to be able to listen to the excellent speaker set which greatly enhanced my knowledge of such issues and provided a new list of sources to quote in debates.
Furthermore, other speakers such as the managing editor of BBC Watch and Dr. Troy attacked the anti-Israel bias from the public relations aspect by drawing attention to academic sources and how to present a case. Lastly, listening to other pro-Israel activists from campuses featuring varying degrees of anti-Israel bias taught me which responses work, which don’t, and gave new ideas to try. In essence, CAMERA’s speakers and dialogues prepared me for the battle by providing top information and a new skill set to present it effectively to a given audience.
Aside from dialogue, touring Israel’s northern border assisted in understanding the issues from a military standpoint. An incredible view from Misgav Am in the north would prove lethally catastrophic if given back to opposing forces, and the placement of Hezbollah bunkers makes the Israeli military’s house-to-house fighting more real than the news ever could. All this information will now be funneled into better pro-Israel arguments and debates, and I have CAMERA to thank for creating this advanced crash course. This once-in-a-lifetime experience was absolutely incredible, educational, fun, and the connections formed with other pro-Israel advocates will only serve to strengthen the pro-Israel movement at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and beyond. Thank you CAMERA, your investment will only grow.
Contributed by CAMERA Israel Trip Participant Itamar Gnatt