I am grateful that CAMERA provided me the opportunity to see Israel in an entirely different way than ever before. It was incredible to listen to so many well-informed speakers and visit various important historic sights ranging from the Western Wall to north in the Golan. After the trip, I feel more confident than ever in my ability to accurately and confidently defend the State of Israel on my college campus.
Now, more than ever, it is becoming increasingly difficult to sort through the different Israel related material—an increasing problem on college campuses. After spending 10 days exploring the land of Israel with CAMERA, I am certain that CAMERA is the one of the most important pro-Israel groups in the world today.
From Professor Gil Troy to Mark Regev, the Spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the biggest lesson I took away from my trip was the importance of a pro-active, confident delivery. As I stood in front of hundreds of rockets fired at Israel with Noam Bedein of the Sderot Media Center, the work that CAMERA and every pro-Israel activist does began to come into focus. While often times the conversation regarding Middle East peace is centered on the various politics involved with negotiation, it is important to remember that men, women, and children are living under threat every day. Every. Single. Day.
Amongst the speakers, Israeli Foreign Diplomat Ishmael Khaldi provided me with the most unique and intriguing insights. A Bedouin from the town of Khawalid in the Western Galilee, he served in the Israeli Defense Forces, the Defense Ministry and the Israeli Police force. Amidst cries of Israeli “apartheid,” Mr. Khaldi proudly defends his homeland of Israel against thousands of BDS supporters and perpetuators of anti-Israel hatred. Flanked by his family in his native village, he spoke about his experience defending Israel both at home and abroad. Seeing a member of the Israeli minority proudly defending the Jewish state was inspiring beyond words.
In addition to the unbelievable speakers and sights that we visited, I was incredibly impressed with my fellow students and their commitment to the pro-Israel cause on their respective campuses. While I have encountered a small amount of anti-Israel sentiment and bias, my experiences pale in comparison to many of my peers. Whether it is an anti-Israel protest or speakers, these students are proud to call themselves pro-Israel activists. More than anything, the consensus amongst the group of students was clear—much of the pro-Israel programming on campus would not be possible without the work of the folks at CAMERA and the hard work that they put forward.
After benefiting from the unbelievable trip that CAMERA put together and hearing the great respect that every speaker and peer of mine held for CAMERA, I am deeply confident in the direction of the pro-Israel community. With the relentless effort that the entire CAMERA organization puts forward to ensure true and honest reporting in the Middle East, I know that the truth will always be demanded of every newsroom.
Contributed by Daniel Mael
Daniel Mael is a Junior at Brandeis University and a participant of the 2013 CAMERA Leadership and Advocacy Training Mission to Israel.