Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Standing Up For My Homeland

Last week on Tuesday and Wednesday we spent it in Be'er Sheva learning about the proper tools to advocate for Israel on college/university campuses next year. As well, Yossi talked to us about how we can choose how much or how little we advocate and get involved with Israel on campus but we will for sure be put in the spot light so we need to be prepared.

Tuesday morning was taught by Neil Lazarus and he began the morning by calling on various people and demanding them to justify different situations about Israel and its current situation (for example situations about settlements and the Gaza War). This was a great way to start of the two days and it made me really think about how I would answer if I was put on the spot. He then showed us the movie Crossing the Line: the Intifada Comes to Campus, about the situation that is happing on college campuses both in and out of the classroom. It was a huge eye opener and shocker and made me want to stand up for Israel even more next year. Neil then spent the rest of the morning going over tactics and strategies to help us advocate better and know when it is the right time to step in. In the afternoon, a woman named Michelle who is the director of Diaspora relations for an organization called Stand With US did a presentation more about how to advocate and also about how to deal with teachers or other faculty who are being anti-Israel. To end off the day we watched the documentary by Alan Dershowitz called the Case for Israel. Despite it being a late day and being tired, I still enjoyed the movie and I thought it did a good job of wrapping up the day with summarizing what we are advocating for by going over the issues Israel is facing and basically defending Israel. It was then back to Kibbutz for dinner and a relaxing evening.

Wednesday morning began with a presentation by Daivd Abitbol, one of the founders of the online magazine, Jewlicious, spoke to us about advocating for Israel via the internet. He went over how we can better use sites such as Facebook, YouTube to our advantage and the importance of using them for the right reasons and how to make sure our message gets across. We then had a presentation by Itamar Marcus, who works for the Palestinian Media Watch. He spent the time going over some very disturbing clips from Palestinian TV that instill hatred into children (for example the Palestinian Mickey Mouse, Farfur who death on the show was blamed on the Jews). He also showed us how they name schools, street names and more after Palestinian "martyrs" who are actually some of the worst suicide bombers during the intifada and how they wipe out Jewish History and Israel from the map. For the afternoon, Neil had planned a simulation activity where we become member of Nativety University and were assigned to different student groups (I become a member of the Palestinian Social Justice Group) and had to plan a week long set of activities for freshman week to endorse our group. We then set out planning our programs and we actually had to "call" the university to book rooms, security, catering, arts and booking speakers and singers etc (who were actually all our madrichim). This part of the simulation was the most frustrating aspects because having all 5 groups trying to call one person at the same time does not work so a large amount of the time was spent making the calls. As well throughout the afternoon we received texts saying that there was an attack on Muslims that was blamed on the Jews and there were death threats to Zionists. When we got all back together to share our week of activities, we analyzed how we could do things better and I learned a lot and Neil was very impressed. One thing that was stressed throughout the two days was that if you are not comfortable speaking in public there are many other ways to advocate for Israel such as through technology or planning programs and activities that show of Israel such as a fashion show.

Throughout these two days I learned a great deal and I hope to use these skills one way or another next year at McGill.

Saturday Night began the festive holiday of Lag BaOmer and the popular thing to do is to make bonfires, so for a little while Miriam and I walked around the Kibbutz and the surrounding area to see the various bonfires including one right behind my carven which lasted until the wee hours of the morning. Sunday in Gan we also made a bonfire and roasted marshmallows and potatoes and I also in the process got a minor burn (but I’m A-OK). Sunday evening all the young families on the Kibbutz had a bonfire so I went to it for a bit to see some of my kids from the Gan and then later in then we as Nativ, made another bonfire and we roasted marshmallows and just had a good time. 

This Tuesday we went to the closing MASA event in Jerusalem that included workshops and speakers to help us prepare for next year as well as hearing Bibi Netanyahu, Natan Sharansky and Hadag Nachash. We did not get there until the afternoon portion because the morning was dealing with Israel advocacy and Branding Israel which we had already dealt with. So the few sessions that we had were ok (not that interesting or helpful), and we also got to hear Natan Sharansky talk about his time in prison in Russia which was fascinating and he had such a great sense of humor. That evening after going through somewhat intense security we sat down for the closing session of the day. After a few brief introductions we got to hear from Prime Minster Bibi Netanyahu who was also a pretty good speaker (you can see his speech here) and then it was time for the concert by Hadag Nachash. This was definitely a great way to begin ending my year in Israel.

Tomorrow is my last day at work which will be a bittersweet day followed by the last open Shabbat and then Sunday we began Northern Tiyul followed by our last Shabbat on Kibbutz and then heading back to Jerusalem for our final week of Nativ. So as you can see we have a lot to do with very little time.

Until next time,