College Students Receive Pep Talk about Israel

Israeli-Palestinian relations have long been and continue to be one of the most controversial and divisive topics among the Jewish community.  With a wide-range of opinions and attitudes that fuel an engaging and constant dialogue, especially among Judaeans and TYniks alike, we are kept both slightly at odds and deeply connected with one another.

Nadav Weinberg’s piece in the Cleveland Jewish News shares a bit of his own story and perspective, including his work with the Hadracha (leadership) program at Tel Yehudah during Summer 2011.  And, as always, feel free to make your comments below.

As the siren blasted, a wrinkled, 60-year-old Jewish-American shoved a camera three inches from my face and screamed, "This is how you are remembering the Holocaust? You are no better than the Nazis."

Motivated by the protester's hate speech, I began a tour of American college campuses, speaking on the issue of the ethical conduct of the Israel Defense Forces. At Arizona State University, I was met with 70 anti-Israeli protesters. Although I remained calm and addressed the protesters' questions, rebutting each loaded question with factual answers, I watched as the Arizona State Israel advocacy group was caught completely off-guard, never expecting to be met with protesters in Phoenix, and worse yet, not knowing how to respond.

I realized how unprepared young Jewish adults are in refuting anti-Israel sentiment, and I decided to help educate college-bound high-school students through my work at Camp Tel Yehudah, Young Judea's senior leadership camp.

In June 2011, I arrived as a counselor, determined to educate 16-year-olds about the Israeli-Palestinian "battle" waging on college campuses. In that effort, I helped mold these high-schoolers into an Israel advocacy group that presented Israel's case to three members of Congress, lobbying for continued aid to Israel.

When I started, I asked a bright-eyed girl if she supported Israel and if so, why. She smiled shyly and said, "Of course, because I love laying on the beach in Tel Aviv." I knew then that we had our work cut out for us.

For the next two weeks we read articles, argued politics, and finally put together a speech that the campers presented to their U.S. representative. The evening before we lobbied the three members of Congress, I asked the girl the same question. She looked at me and said confidently, "Yes, I support Israel. Since 1995, Israeli doctors have saved over 2,300 children through Save a Child's Heart organization. Of the 2,300 children, over half were Palestinian, Jordanian and Iraqi. In addition, Israeli scientists wanted to make a tomato into a snack, so they genetically designed cherry tomatoes. How cool is that?"

Read Nadav's full article in the Cleveland Jewish News (published October 27, 2011)

Nadav Weinberg is a native of Ohio and served in the Orev Special Forces of the IDF's Nachal Brigade.  He is currently touring the United States and speaking about the "Ethics of the IDF" on college campuses.  Nadav was a madrich at Tel Yehudah in 2011.

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