300 Israeli American students. 94 campuses. 72 hours.
Last weekend, IAC’s college program, Mishelanu, hosted its second annual national conference in Los Angeles, California. Students arrived on Friday and were greeted by a creatively designed wall where they could write what Mishelanu meant to them, what being Israeli-American meant to them, and how Mishelanu inspired them. 300 collective thoughts and ideas were written and posted on the wall and served as inspiration and motivation through out the weekend.
There were a plethora of sessions about campus outreach, technology, culture, social media, and of course Israel.
The first morning of the conference kicked off with different workshops, some of which rotated through out the day, so students would have a chance to gain skills from each.
The first session I attended was titled What Would You Do? in regards to the serious anti-Israel activity on campuses today that creates many challenges for Jewish-Israeli students. Students were divided into groups and given theoretical situations where they would encounter anti-Israel challenges in different ways and had to strategize on how to act. Additionally, there was a panel of representatives from different pro-Israel organizations such as StandWithUs, ICC, and SSI. CAMERA and the Jewish Agency Israel Fellows that provided advice and feedback.
Many things were discussed, but some of the notable things I learned is that it is important to know your student government’s constitution so that you can know what is permitted for them to do and what is not. Another effective tool is for students to table, not only at the regular spots and school fairs, but also in other central places where they can make a lasting impression. When one of the representatives spoke about how coalitions between clubs on campus are a key to strengthening our cause Mishelanu’s National Director Nathalie Landesman asked me to speak about a successful event my Mishelanu club at Yeshiva University hosted regarding Jewish refugees from Arab Lands in the 20th century. Although we do not have SJP or BDS resolutions on our campus it was still important for us to maintain a connection to our past and our roots and is even all the more so vital on campuses that do have those who will try to delegitimize our identity and heritage