What environment will Jewish and pro-Israel students
encounter on campus this academic year? Some 150 current and entering college
students and parents found out during a special presentation and workshop last
Titled “Israel on Campus: Obstacles and Opportunities in
an Upside-Down World”, the event was convened by JUF’s Israel Education Center
(IEC) and featured opportunities to probe issues that have challenged Jewish
students and campus professionals at colleges and universities around the
Workshop sessions included Moving Beyond the Crisis
Narrative: A Hillel Approach to Discussions about Israel; Myths and Facts: How
to Respond Effectively; Coalition Building: Creating Networks for Successful
Israel Engagement on Campus; BDS Basics; and Media Matters: Pro-Israel
Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic That Counts.
In a keynote address to attendees, Richard Herman, former
Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said university
administrators must be aware of the issues facing Jewish students, and take
action to maintain a positive campus environment.
A panel with pro-Israel student activists at Boston,
Loyola, DePaul, and Northwestern Universities gave participants a taste of
“real-world” campus Israel advocacy scenarios and concrete actions they have
taken. In smaller breakout sessions, JUF staff and campus professionals engaged
with students about key Israel-related topics, while parents received a
briefing from Consul General of Israel to the Midwest Roey Gilad and JUF
Executive Vice President Jay Tcath.
“It’s going to be a difficult year on campus, but
students from across the political spectrum are working together to support
Israel and deal with the challenges. We’re creating a ‘big tent’,” said John
Lowenstein, vice president, Campus Affairs and executive director of The
Hillels of Illinois.
"After the events of this summer's Israel-Hamas war
and the ramping up of delegitimization efforts coupled with anti-Semitic tropes
on social media, we want to ensure people know where to turn for resources and
information," said IEC Director Emily Briskman.