Hillel at Rutgers University will step up its pro-Israel activities in the week preceding an anti-Israel conference to be held on the campus in October.
"The Israel Inspires campaign will create a recognizable pro-Israel presence at Rutgers through diverse programming," said Rutgers Hillel President Stephanie Schwartz. "The campaign takes a celebratory and peaceful approach, appealing to all students."
More than simply a response to the upcoming National Student Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement being held at Rutgers, the initiative includes a sophisticated approach to Israel education and advocacy with the stated goal "to empower Jewish students from Rutgers and other campuses with the resources to express their pride in Israel and their Jewish heritage." Rutgers Hillel has sponsored extensive, pro-Israel activities on the campus throughout the last two years.
Rutgers Hillel has been working closely with Hillel's Center for Israel Affairs, the Israel on Campus Coalition, and local partner agencies on the campaign. Wayne L. Firestone, director of Hillel's Center for Israel Affairs, said, "Rutgers has clearly learned from previous conferences at the University of Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley that Israel's detractors should not be rewarded with extra media attention to legitimize their offensive views." The Israel on Campus Coalition, a partnership of 26 pro-Israel organizations founded by Hillel and the Schusterman Family Foundation, has been monitoring developments at Rutgers and is helping to plan appropriate responses.
The campaign will include a series of diverse programs leading up to the Palestine Conference. These activities will include Israel at Heart, a program that brings articulate young Israelis to college campuses; visits by elected officials; and an Israeli drum circle. The campaign will peak with the "Israel Inspires" rally and conference.
"The Palestinian conference at Rutgers presents enormous challenges to our community, but also a unique opportunity to focus increased resources and attention on of the most important issues facing both college students and the entire Jewish community," said Andrew Getraer, executive director of Rutgers University Hillel. "Hillel's Israel Inspires program will not only inspire students in regard to Israel, it will also build a powerful sense of Jewish identity, community, and pride. It will be a transformative, touchstone event in the lives of thousands of students."