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January 29, 2015 / 9 Shevat, 5775
 
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Campus Activists to Army – Lone Soldiers Speak


IDF soldiers

He was so moved by the encounter with Netanyahu that the young man organized an event featuring the letters of Alex Singer, a former Cornell undergraduate who was killed in combat as a paratrooper in 1986. He listed other organizations, such as The Avi Schaefer Fund, which seek to draft former IDF soldiers into campus leadership positions.

During his military service, the young man recalled, his platoon encountered a group of American high school students who were part of the Write On for Israel education and advocacy training program. “Seeing the two different crowds really brought home the road I have traveled,” he said. “A few years earlier, I would have found myself on the other bus. Student activism, pro-Israel advocacy, free trips to Israel… all are themes I know well from my years in high school and university. And yet I stood there in my dirty green uniform, unwashed after four days in the woods, watching the slickly dressed students pour back onto their bus. Was I really living in a world so foreign to the one they know? Or does my own biography not imply that the path from their bus to my own is far less distant than our dress and concerns may suggest?”

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In past years, students turned to the people they knew for advice or strived to build creative plans on their own. While these approaches can yield strong results, imagine what could be achieved with a nationally networked resource that provides the best of all worlds — tested, proven programming ideas and step-by-step details of best practices for impacting the campus environment.

IDF soldiers

Dov Lerner, former ZOA president at the University of Maryland and current Lone Soldier in the IDF: “It is very different making the case for Israel on campuses than actually sitting on the border with a gun guarding the country,” Lerner said. “Having done both, I know that they are both extremely necessary.”

About a dozen college campuses, including Brown University, Queens College, New York University, Columbia University, Yeshiva University and Cornell University, were represented by student delegations in the parade, which has been an annual fixture for the past 48 years.

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