South Florida college students were among those who participated in the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America’s annual student leadership and advocacy training conference that took place over the summer in Boston University.
Every August, CAMERA hosts this student conference for Israel advocates on campus who are brought together from all over North America, South America, Europe and Israel. The conference teaches both CAMERA Fellows and its Emet for Israel group activists how to effectively combat anti-Israel and biased propaganda on college campuses.
Meraises Miranda of Miami, a senior who attends Florida International University, feels that the best way the conference allowed her to be prepared to combat anti-Israel and biased propaganda on campus was being put in real-life scenarios and given real-life opportunities.
“We had a mock-BDS trial and things like that, so I think the fact that we had the opportunity to really learn is what’s going to help me, because I’m a very hands-on person and being able to put that into practice is what’s really helped me learn and prepared me for such things,” Miranda, 21, said. “If I could go to the CAMERA conference again I would. It was such a great experience. I recommend it for anyone who is really passionate about Israel and their Jewish culture.”
Allison Taylor from West Palm Beach, a junior at the University of Michigan, enjoyed how well the conference prepared the students to any kind of anti-Semitism or anti-Israel behavior they may see on campus.
“They did a lot of awesome hypothetical scenarios where they would play pro-BDS people or they would kind of play devil’s advocate and force us to really put ourselves in that defensive position if we were to encounter that at our university,” Taylor, 20, said. “It felt very real because they were very informed of the other side. They really tried to inform us on the other side and what the arguments may be.”
Taylor, who considers herself a very strong pro-Israel advocate, concluded, “I think that they instilled in me the importance of being understanding and being passionate for what I believe in.”
Tatiana-Rose Becker, campus coordinator for CAMERA, said, “A lot of students that we work with have passion and love for Israel, but they don’t know how to express it, so the conference gives them access to each other. They bounce ideas off each other and they collaborate.”
“They also have our expertise to teach them what are really the most effective methods of communication on campus,” she continued.
Miranda said that the CAMERA conference really emphasizes on the fact that “we are all one.”
“Everyone who is in Israel is Israel. It’s not just the Jews who live there, even though it’s a Jewish state, and there were participants at this conference that weren’t Jewish. There were Christians, there were Muslims and there were some people who don’t even have a religion, and I think that is something that’s so important.”
Due to the diversity at the conference, Miranda said she’s made it a point that for most of the events of Shalom FIU, the school’s pro-Israel group that she’s a part of, they will be geared towards both the Jewish and general communities.
“They will be relating to everyone and the different cultures and the different religions,” she said.
Miranda is an active pro-Israel Jewish student. She is also involved in Chabad FIU and Hillel. She is also starting a new colony of a Jewish sorority and is a David Project intern. She was also approached by a CAMERA representative to start a group with a focus on Latinos for Israel on campus. Contact Miranda at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on local pro-Israel events she’s planning to host on campus.
Taylor, a CAMERA Fellow for the University of Michigan, said this conference was her first step towards being much more involved in pro-Israel and Jewish groups on campus.
“I’m hoping to either join the Israel group on campus or possibly even start a CAMERA affiliated group on campus. Through this fellowship, I also have to host an event, so I’m hoping to bring in a new speaker or new guest to help them get involved with the Israel groups on campus or co-host.”
Other college students from the state of Florida who participated in the conference were: Jared Samilow from Weston; Craig Covitz and Matt Rabinowitz who attend Florida State University; Michael Katz from Miami who attends the University of Florida; Shrin Rostamian, who attends Florida Atlantic University; and Jake Suster, Samantha Busey and Jesse Benjamin Slomowitz who attend the University of Central Florida.
This article was contributed by Sergio Carmona and was originally published at the Sun Sentinel.