Leading pro-Israel activists convened in Washington, DC, last week to celebrate the efforts of Jewish students who, among others, fought against the divestment movement and created a partnership between students at top American and Israeli scientific institutions at the Israel on Campus Coalition's (ICC) Summer Consultation. Participants at the semiannual forum recognized campus leaders in Israel education, advocacy, and activism and also heard from a panel of experts who shared the most current research on today's campus landscape.
The ICC is a partnership of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, in cooperation with a network of organizations committed to promoting Israel education and advocacy on campus.
The ICC presented its annual Outstanding Collaborative Project Award to the Hillel at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the Milwaukee Jewish Community Relations Council for their determined efforts in defeating divestment efforts at several schools within the University of Wisconsin system. The award was also presented to MIT student Sam Korb for his efforts in forging a significant relationship between MIT and the Technion in Israel, and the ICC of Orange County, StandWithUs and the Jewish National Fund for their roles in creating the "Making the Case for Israel" conference this past spring in Orange County, Calif.
New York Jewish Week Editor-in-Chief Gary Rosenblatt was awarded the Jeffrey Ross Memorial Award for Israel Awareness for the numerous articles and editorials he has written about the campus Israel activities. Rosenblatt has also been a leading advocate for Israel advocacy through the media by creating Write on for Israel, a two-year program that trains high-school students to express their support for Israel through written publications, broadcasting and public speaking. Cornell University sophomore Benjamin Birnbaum was recognized for the Best Student-Authored Piece in the Israel Campus Beat e-mail newsletter for a six-part series about life in Israel.
"These awards highlight the best among many pro-active, pro-Israel activities that are taking place year round on campuses across America," ICC Chair Lisa Eisen said. "They demonstrate that Israel advocacy and educational efforts on campus - either student-driven or community-initiated - can achieve significant long-term impact when they involve collaboration."
Looking ahead to the year to come, ICC members also discussed the defining characteristics of students currently attending universities and the challenges and opportunities inherent to that generation.
"Understanding today's student is critical to devising a strategic vision for Israel advocacy and education on campus," said ICC Executive Director Wayne L. Firestone. "Armed with this knowledge and the valuable input of students and other key community stakeholders, we are well positioned to create and implement a significant national campaign promoting Israel come this fall," he added.
Attendees hailed from throughout the country, including New York, Connecticut, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orange County, Atlanta and Philadelphia, and represented the ICC's 26 member organizations, regional affiliates and student leaders. The semiannual consultation allows members to assess the past year, discern new trends and patterns for the year ahead and forge new avenues of cooperation.