by Emily Firestone
I returned from my gap year in Israel in June. Ever since, I have been busy with various preparations for my next stage in life, college. Naturally as a pro-Israel advocate, leadership training is part of my summer. Earlier in the summer I attended AIPAC’s Saban Leadership Training Seminar. Last week I spent four days in Boston at CAMERA’s Student Leadership and Advocacy Conference. Thankfully there are so many pro-Israel organizations offering their resources and support to students across the world. I know I must step up and do what I can to get ready to speak up for Israel on campus.
Each organization has its own unique approach. While Jerusalem U uses film-education, CAMERA (Center for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) focuses on factual accuracy, especially in the media. At the conference I learned the CAMERA methodology for engaging students on campus through dialogue, cultural and educational events, op-ed writing, media, and tabling.
I was not familiar with the concept of tabling prior to the conference. I learned that setting up a table at a student club fair or any visible place on campus can achieve many things including publicity, engaging uninformed students, assuring a strong voice for Israel in the midst of an anti-Israel atmosphere, and more. At one point we were split up into different teams to have a mock student club fair and we got to practice this technique. I found this to be very useful because I got to observe the different ways students from different campuses used this strategy.
Among some of the engaging sessions was a speaker who switched from leading the SJP chapter on his campus to being an active member of the pro-Israel group, a presentation about fighting antisemitism on campus, a mock BDS trial with real scenarios that fellow students dealt with on their campuses, and presentations from many different pro-Israel organizations. Being with student leaders from across the world, I realized how many resources are available. Different campuses have to face different challenges. But at the end of the day, the pro-Israel organizations want to support us and provide for us. It’s all about knowing how and when to utilize the different available resources.
I always feel very empowered when I am together with other student advocates. Not only are we the future world leaders, but our current efforts on campus are shaping the Israel discussion. As Anne Frank once said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world”.
To learn more about Emily and her fellow alumni, you can check them out on the Core 18 Alumni Page!