George Mason University’s Israel Student Association Recognized for Outstanding Leadership
George Mason University’s Israel Student Association (ISA) was privileged to accept the David Bar-Ilan Award for Outstanding Student Leadership at the 2018 CAMERA Gala. The ISA board members in attendance addressed the almost 600 attendees, providing insight into how they navigated through a hostile campus climate.
They lauded those who had supported their Israel activism efforts over the past few years, namely CAMERA. “The students who represent the anti-Israel voices at Mason do not wish to engage, but to condemn; not to dialogue, but to silence; not to make peace, but to destroy… these students have, for the last few years, hosted campaigns of hate on our campus,” noted ISA’s student board.
“The students who represent the anti-Israel voices at Mason do not wish to engage, but to condemn; not to dialogue, but to silence; not to make peace, but to destroy… these students have, for the last few years, hosted campaigns of hate on our campus.”
It was an immensely rewarding experience for the Israel Student Association to stand in front of peers and mentors to share their experiences. Only a short time ago, Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) served as the main voice on campus in fomenting anti-Israel hatred and intolerance. This heated climate was evident in an incident on Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. Irate anti-Israel students approached ISA’s educational table, yelling lies intent on smearing Israel. On a day like Yom HaShoah, it was infuriating to hear students exploit the Holocaust and use it as a platform to attack Israel.
Regularly attending campus events that defame Israel, members of the Israel Student Association have remained respectful in addressing the hateful fallacies spread by SAIA and National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP).
As the pioneers of CAMERA’s “Pop the Misconception” campaign, members of ISA have focused their efforts on educating more of their peers in order to counter falsehoods about Israel on campus. Notably, ISA held their “Brave Miss World” event last year and reached a wider audience by co-sponsoring with the GMU Feminist Student Organization.
In 2017, ISA was awarded the Collaborative Spirit Award for their efforts in environmental education, working alongside the GMU Secular Student Alliance. In the same year, when the NSJP conference was held at their university, members of ISA created a dialogue and unity initiative, hosting hundreds of students of all backgrounds for Shabbat dinner.
The CAMERA Gala served as a celebration for those who worked tirelessly for a cause about which they were so passionate. “It was an honor to be recognized for all of the hard work that has been put into the club this past year,” says McKenna Bates, the incoming co-president of the Israel Student Association.
“Openly supporting Israel is difficult on a campus with a climate such as ours, and we are ever so grateful to have the support of CAMERA. It has been a long, fruitful year, and with the addition of new members and the experience of the past, we’re very excited to see what the club can accomplish next,” says Bates.
“Openly supporting Israel is difficult on a campus with a climate such as ours, and we are ever so grateful to have the support of CAMERA.”
At the 2018 CAMERA Gala, incoming co-presidents McKenna Bates and Dan Kling were given the opportunity to sit down with student leaders and Israel activists from across the country to discuss solutions to the issues they had confronted on campus.
The spring semester hasn’t even finished yet, but the student leaders at George Mason have already hit the ground running for next year and are gearing up to host an amazing series of events.
Contributed by CAMERA Fellow and president of CAMERA-supported group Israel Student Association Julian Moss.