Unpack With YUPAC: Why YUPAC?
“Why does YU need a pro-Israel club, doesn’t everyone already support Israel there?”
A close friend asked me that question when I told her about YUPAC. It’s a valid question. We’ve all heard countless examples of antisemitism and anti-Zionism on college campuses. Vandalism, anti-Israel rhetoric as curriculum, BDS protests; the list goes on. On most campuses, a Zionist presence is essential to balance out the opposition. Students only exposed to anti-Israel rhetoric aren’t too likely to independently initiate critical pushback. Pro-Israel student organizations prepare these students for the fight against antisemitism, a fight that exists within the very institutions they are meeting in. But at YU, the Israel-Palestinian relationship isn’t a polarizing topic, in fact, it’s part of our institutional mission statement. Our school takes pride in the unique fact that one of the largest clubs on campus is a pro-Israel club.
To better understand the need for a campus club like YUPAC, we need to go back to my year in Israel. In seminary, to learn more about the dynamic between religion and state in Israel, my school took us on a trip to Stand With Us, to hear from the brilliant Charlotte Korchak, Senior Educator and Director of International Student Programs at StandWithUs Israel. Charlotte expertly illustrated how to approach educating others on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: by breaking down the population into 90%, 5% and 5%. She explained that we don’t need to target the first 5% because this group already supports Israel, and how doing so would be a waste of time. Most if not all of the students at YU fall into this 5%. The next 5% are decidedly pro-Palestinian, and there is not much you can do to change their minds. This group, while oftentimes loud and destructive, are not the majority; the remaining 90% is. The 90% represents those who are undecided, and that’s who the vocal, pro-Israel 5% ought to target. The YU student body doesn’t need to be convinced, but they need to be informed, and prepared to educate, inform, and engage in productive conversations with that 90%. This is YUPAC’s focus and the reason YUPAC’s work is so important.
YUPAC isn’t an Israel Advocacy club, but a Political Action Club. We do more than just talk about the reasons why Israel and the Jewish people should exist: We educate our student body on how to start the conversation with others. This coming month YUPAC is going on its lobbying trip. The trip is a perfect example of just this. The central focus of the lobbying trip is to begin the discussion with the people on Capitol Hill capable of making large-scale change. In preparation for this trip, students are being educated on not just Israel and Jewish issues, but how to present those issues to others and make positive change. This is precisely what YUPAC can accomplish: taking a large group of people who are already pro-Israel and turning them into effective leaders and teachers on this issue, to try to affect that key 90%.
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Photo Caption: The YUPAC logo
Photo Credit: YUPAC