Contributed by Rena Nasar, former president of the CCAP Group YOFI at Baruch College:
Israeli soldier Hen Mazzig wrote a powerful, heartfelt op-ed in the Times of Israel imploring young American Jews to “wake up” and “stand for the Jewish state of Israel, and for all it represents, and for all it works to achieve.” Well, Hen, I have good news; as a pro-Israel activist at Baruch College, I’ve heard your message, as have Israel advocates across the country. We’ve woken up and we’re ready to fight back with a new innovative advocacy tool called “Future Leaders for Israel.”
Future Leaders for Israel (FLI) is an exciting expansion of the Florida Loves Israel conferences that have already revolutionized campus advocacy. Florida State University students from Noles for Israel founded the Florida Loves Israel conference in 2011 in an effort to unite and educate pro-Israel students from around the state of Florida. FLI was ranked the #1 Israel event for visibility, support and impact by the Israel on Campus Coalition between 2010-2012 among over 2,300 events on 180 campuses nationwide.
Upon the success of the Florida Loves Israel conferences, its founders saw a tremendous opportunity to engage students outside of Florida in their innovative Israel initiative. As the Florida Loves Israel Conference prepares for its third annual conference, the founders unveil their plans to expand their reach to different colleges and universities across the country. Under the name “Future Leaders for Israel” (FLI), they hope to cultivate new, unique pro-Israel leadership within several different states simultaneously.
Future Leaders for Israel is a student-founded, student-led, student-focused organization that creates the “Gesher” (bridge) between pro-Israel students and groups on college campuses. Their mission is to facilitate and produce conferences similar to Florida Loves Israel, cross-campus programming, and philanthropy that will connect and unite these students and groups to learn from scholars, experts and, most importantly, each other.
FLI will offer the host schools the tools necessary to plan and execute their own conferences and cross-campus programming along with personal consulting from the FLI founders and funding for programming. FLI will also provide the host schools and participants with a strong network of pro-Israel leaders across the country. But most importantly, FLI will help both host schools and participants develop key leadership skills in the advocacy world.
I am so honored to be a part of the FLI team as the Director of PR and Communications. When I was first approached about the project, my eyes glistened with excitement. My own experiences in Israel advocacy – as one of the founders of Baruch’s pro-Israel club Youth Organization For Israel (YOFI) – have taught me that cross-campus interaction is vital for the success of our campus-specific goals. As an Israel advocate on my campus, I understood the need for FLI to branch out and engage with other campuses in other states and I knew I had to be part of this movement. FLI has already revitalized advocacy efforts throughout Florida; other campuses need to be jolted too. They need to be re-inspired and re-empowered.
I first joined the team in August and since then I’ve watched this dream quickly turn into a strong, unstoppable reality. The Florida Atlantic University pro-Israel group Owls for Israel has been selected to host the third annual FLI Conference. FAU’s success in this pro-Israel initiative is an incredible feat considering the evictions fiasco Owls for Israel recently dealt with. Upon FLI’s expansion, Pennsylvania is already planning its own Future Leaders for Israel Conference with the help of FLI representatives.
FLI already has and will forever revolutionize the way students relate to Israel advocacy as they prepare and empower THEMSELVES for the campus battles ahead.
You’re not alone, Hen. We’re awake and we’re ready.
For more information about FLI, check out our website www.fli.org Check out the piece “New Pro-Israel College Group Seeks to Turn Florida Success Into National Growth” recently published in The Algemeiner.