Bringing Israel Home to Tidewater

by | Aug 16, 2012 | Other News

College students from Tidewater.

College students from Tidewater.

Following up on the success of Sababa Sundays of the past two years, the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater hosted a new event for local college bound Jewish students: Bringing Israel Home.

Held on Sunday, Aug. 5 at Bite Restaurant in Norfolk, the event reached out to college students to educate them on various pressing issues affecting university campuses across the country regarding Israel.

Throughout the United States, Israel is facing increasing criticism based on a series of false and incorrect set of ideas. Although some criticism toward Israeli government policies are perfectly legitimate and worthy of debate, this criticism is becoming more hostile and misguided in particular on college campuses with many anti-Israel student groups attempting to demonize and delegitimize the nation. Bringing Israel Home was designed to inform and educate Tidewater students of the problems they may face on their own school’s campus and give them access to the proper resources to address Anti-Israel bias.

The event’s two key speakers, Kate Samuels, the America Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) Southern States area director and Avi Jorisch of Red Cell Intelligence Group, addressed many of these concerns, as well as provided guidance and direction as to how to become involved at school.

Samuels discussed political activism and the important role students play in mobilizing support for lobbying members of Congress. Although college students only comprise a portion of the country’s voters, while on campus, students can make a difference in garnering support for Israel not only for Congressional leaders, but also from the leaders of student body government, the future leaders of the country. Attendees were encouraged to vote in the upcoming election, either in their school district or via absentee ballot. To make things easier, forms were available to register to vote absentee and quite a few students took advantage of the opportunity and registered to vote absentee that day.

Jorisch offered a crash course in understanding the Arab-Israeli conflict from both perspectives. An expert on national security issues relating to terrorism, illicit finance and radical Islam, he has held prominent positions at the American Foreign Policy Council, the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, and as a liaison to the Department of Homeland Security. Jorisch also serves on the advisory board of United Against a Nuclear Iran, as well as an Arab media and terrorism consultant for the Department of Defense. By helping explain both perspectives of the history of the conflict, students were enabled to bolster the case for Israel when confronted with Anti-Israel sentiment.

Although the many threats Israel faces may seem daunting, Israel is a vibrant Democracy that affords freedoms and justice to all citizens residing within her borders. Only in Israel can Arabs vote in fair elections, can women serve in the highest offices, can gays openly fight in the military and live without fear of government reprisal, and can citizens speak out against the government, even in denunciation over the Palestinian-Israeli issue.

With so much turmoil in the Middle East, it is vital that college students know the facts about Israel and how to defend her against detractors.

The upcoming elections come at an extremely important time not just for America domestically, but at a time of immense challenges to America and the Western World in the international arena. In particular, a growing Iranian threat continues to berate and antagonize the United States and its only true ally in the Middle Eastern region, Israel; a nation that shares the same liberal democratic freedoms and principles America was founded upon 236 years ago.

For young voters, this program helped facilitate an understanding of the complex issues regarding Israel in the general election to be able to make responsible and well thought out decisions regarding the future of this nation and Israel.

Bringing Israel Home also offered a chance to get together and reconnect with other Jewish college students before heading back to school…and preparing to vote.

by Mason Leon