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 night.
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 country.
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.