During their summer breaks away from lecture halls and libraries, many undergraduate students assume leadership roles as counselors and mentors to a younger generation in camps across the country. Camps across the Jewish spectrum feature programming, discussions and classes aimed at developing staff members into pro-Israel campus activists.
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.”
You might not expect it, but the pro-Israel group at the University of California, Santa Cruz -- a school with a decidedly liberal reputation -- drew impressive numbers of attendees to its events throughout the past academic year. Approximately 150 people attended the Santa Cruz Israel Action Committee’s big fall quarter event, a screening of the documentary film, U.N. Me.
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.
The Boston-based group took the pro-Israel community by surprise this year when it released a report in February titled “A Burning Campus? Rethinking Israel Advocacy at America’s Universities and Colleges.” The report, or "white paper," outlined a significant departure from the organization's divisive and hard-line history.
Students at the University of Toronto used the cold Canadian winters as a way to promote open dialogue about Israel and educate their fellow students with a campaign they called Hot Chocolate, Hot Topic.
Oren stressed the importance of treating every question with respect, noting that there is only one question that he refuses to respect. “I won't respect any question that draws a comparison between Israel and the Nazis," he said. "I won't respond to that, at least not respectfully."
Shagririm caters to the large population of Israeli–Americans in Southern California and their American born children. The program connects these individuals in order to effectively generate pro-Israel programs and initiatives. Shagririm is the only program of its kind that currently functions solely on a local, multi-campus level, rather than nationwide.