For Israelis, daily life can be intense. Most of us have served in the IDF during one operation or another. When driving, we stay clear of the areas where there is a high chance of having rocks thrown at our cars. Here in Jerusalem, we avoid walking around with two headphones in, to ensure that we are not caught off-guard in the event of a terrorist attack.
At the same time, students around the world who support Israel are facing a different battle.
Israeli students are largely unaware of what it’s like to be a Pro-Israel student on a college campus in the U.S., Canada or the UK. Nor are most of us tuned in to the difficult fight for accurate Israel-related coverage in media outlets around the world, and the subsequent effects biased coverage have on the public’s perception of the Jewish state.
This is why we opened the first CAMERA on Campus group at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Our goals are three-fold. First, we aim to educate ourselves about Israeli history and the competing political narratives about the conflict. We also want to increase students’ awareness of the challenges faced by Pro-Israel groups on campuses worldwide. And third, we hope to create ties with students from all over the world. These relationships will allow us to share our experiences, and will disseminate the truth about our country.
For our first event, we focused on familiarizing our students with the challenges of BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel) facing Pro-Israel students on campuses.
We started off the evening with a basic overview of the BDS movement by Jerusalem U’s Campus Director Yoni Mann, who shared with us the powerful short film “Crossing the Line 2.” Becky Sebo, featured in the film, then expanded on her personal experience as a student activist at Ohio University, where she was arrested on campus while speaking out against BDS. Lia Lands, Communications Associate for CAMERA on Campus, shed some light on students’ Pro-Israel activity and addressed the intimidating atmosphere they can experience. We wrapped up the evening with a panel of international students, who shared their experiences as Pro-Israel students on campus.
Feedback was overwhelmingly positive from the 50 students in attendance. Many were shocked to discover the scary atmosphere that exists on campuses for many students, and were quick to inquire about how they can help.
We come from all sides of the political spectrum, but we are united when it comes to sharing our beautiful homeland with the world. We look forward to working with all CAMERA Fellows and Interns at all universities as your boots on the ground. Together, we will make an impact.
Apply for the 2016-2017 CAMERA Fellowship here.