AIPAC, IDF, and ZOA Events Headline YU Israel Club Events
On a pair of campuses with more than one hundred and fifty clubs, it is often difficult for one club to take charge and plan events every week for students and faculty. The Yeshiva University Israel Club, with an official membership of 400 members, according to its Facebook page, manages to consistently deliver such a menu of events without fail, year in and year out. In addition to filling up student calendars, the Israel Club has been instrumental in actualizing a unique mission that other Israel-centric student organizations across campuses nationwide do not have the opportunity to achieve. While other college campuses often deal with anti-Israel protests, hateful demonstrations, or other “negative” programming from other students, “it’s pretty much a given that our students are pro-Israel,” explains Israel Club Co-President Hannah Rogawski (Stern ’16). “Instead of dealing with anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism, we are seeking to keep our student body educated, updated, and aware of Israeli current events.” One way the club is looking to organize these objectives is by dividing some of the club’s board into designated sub-committees, each charged with a certain focus: Pre-Aliyah, Advocacy/Political, and Cultural Events.
By planning their activities, speakers, and other events with one (or more) of these categories in mind, this year’s Israel Club leaders hope to facilitate increased student involvement throughout both campuses. Michael Osborne (Syms ’15) adds that the Israel Club is looking “to change in the way we are interacting with other pro-Israel organizations this year.” With other student clubs like CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), TAMID (Israel Investment Group), and others all specializing in niche interests, the Israel Club hopes to both partner with their peers, as well as fill in the gaps.
So far this year, the Israel Club has hosted several events on campus in addition to organizing student presences at off-campus events like pro-Israel rallies in Manhattan (or countering anti-Israel ones). Just this past week, the Israel Club both followed through on its commitment to increase pre-Aliyah events – bringing in advisors from Nefesh B’Nefesh to explain the immigration process – as well as further its social agenda, by organizing one of its ever-popular kumsitzes in Times Square. Robert Cohen, AIPAC’s National President, visited the Stern campus and a packed Koch Auditorium one Thursday night to discuss the America-Israel relationship and America’s ultimate commitment to stand alongside its Middle-Eastern counterpart. In addition to explaining AIPAC’s goals and how students could make a difference, he explained the complicated political situation that often arises when conflicts and struggles amplify in Israel, before taking a couple of questions from the audience. Tamar Golubtchik, a junior at Stern who is on the Israel Club board and helped plan the AIPAC event, said that she “really believes that understanding the current US-Israel relationship is essential for proper Israel advocacy. That is why I found it so important to bring Mr. Cohen to address the student body, the next generation of advocates for Israel.”
The Israel Club also provided several forums for students to discuss the summer’s military operation, bringing in psychology professor Dr. David Pelcovitz and Mashpia Rabbi Moshe Weinberger to discuss the emotional and spiritual impacts of the summer as well as co-sponsoring a panel on what students in the University can do on campus for Israel. This initiative, which also included leaders from YUPAC, College Republicans, College Democrats, Soldiers in Exile, and the Political Science Society, ended spectacularly with a rendition of the “Hamas vs. Hummus” challenge – not a face on the panel was left un-covered by the dip. In another event, Colonel Yonatan Branski, an infantry officer in the Israel Defense Force who served as a senior commander and helped carry out Operation Protective Edge in Gaza this past summer, provided “an insider's perspective about the situation in Israel,” according to Rogawski.
The Israel Club plans to arrange dozens more of events, so if you have not yet had the opportunity to attend one of these activities or lectures that really provide a slice of the Zionism you have been missing, there will be more to come. Zach Stern, a representative from the Zionist Orgnaization of America’s Campus Activism Network, will be speaking about how to best advocate with regards to Israel-Hamas conflicts and presenting a clear picture of the tensions in Gaza. The Beren Career Center will be presenting resources for finding internships in Israel as well as a panel of students who actually completed internships in Israel over the past summer; they will be speaking about their experiences and the application process. Additional programming with Nefesh B’Nefesh is guaranteed, including an event called “Impact Israel,” which will discuss the notion of influencing Israel through personal career choices and diversifying employable skills and fields. Other opportunities to hear from IDF representatives – whether to hear their stories or to express interest yourself – will also be available. All are invited to visit and ‘like’ their official Facebook page to keep up to date on all events and initiatives, at https://www.facebook.com/YUIsraelClub.