Originally submitted to The Daily Bruin. By Laura Logan, Gabriel Levine and Greg Katz, Co-Chairs Elect of J Street U at UCLA.
On May 7, the Daily Bruin published an advertisement titled “The Two-State Illusion,” which argues that the Palestinians’ quest for statehood is actually a guise for their ulterior motive “to wipe Israel off the map and push the Jews into the sea.” Facts and Logic About the Middle East, the self-proclaimed research organization that published the ad, presents an assortment of cherry-picked historical examples as evidence to support their argument. Its suggestion that the Palestinian quest for statehood is a rejectionist front rather than a legitimate movement for self-determination is both unfounded and damaging to Israel’s future. In fact, Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state depends on the creation of a viable, self-sufficient Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel’s continued settlement in the West Bank will eventually lead to annexation, which will in turn lead to the absorption of more than 3 million Palestinians into the Israeli population. If the absorbed Palestinian population were granted Israeli citizenship and given voting rights, Israel would no longer be a Jewish state because it would no longer have a Jewish majority. Conversely, if Israel refrained from granting citizenship to the absorbed population, it would no longer be a democratic state. The only way Israel can retain both its Jewish and democratic character is through a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict.
Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians and the current government’s apparent lack of commitment to negotiations have already alienated many Jews abroad, which Israel counts upon as an external support base. Even those who want to support a Jewish homeland in Israel have been disturbed by years of violent military incursions, displacement of Palestinian families and overt land grabs using the security barrier. Young liberal Jews in America, according to prominent journalist Peter Beinart, have begun to check out of the Israel conversation entirely. Jewish values demand advocacy for universal justice and questioning those in power, but when it comes to Israel, young Jews are suddenly asked to “check their liberalism at Zionism’s door.”
While both Israeli and Palestinian leaders have missed opportunities and have at times squandered prospects for a two-state solution, it remains the only realistic possibility.
Polls have shown that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians not only support a two-state solution, but also strongly believe it will be the ultimate outcome of the conflict. A poll released by OneVoice Movement, an international organization dedicated to promoting the expressed will of Palestinians and Israelis, shows that 74 percent of Palestinians and 78 percent of Israelis would accept a two-state solution. Even Ghazi Hamad, Hamas’ deputy foreign minister, recently announced the party’s official endorsement of the two-state solution, assuming 1967 borders. Meanwhile, the same poll shows that 59 percent of Palestinians and 66 percent of Israelis would not accept a single, bi-national state. Palestinian nationalism is just as real as Jewish nationalism, and both peoples have an equally valid claim to self-determination.
According to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas considered a plan for Palestinian statehood nearly identical to the one offered to former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in 2000. Olmert speculated, as reported in Haaretz, that the deal did not materialize due largely to pressure from right-wing, U.S.-based “pro-Israel” organizations. Why is it that such organizations, like FLAME, believe that they are doing Israel a service, when in reality they are impeding Israel’s chances to obtain lasting peace?
The creation of a Palestinian state is the only means by which Israel can survive as a secure and democratic homeland for the Jewish people. The two-state solution is the official platform of the current Israeli and Palestinian governments, and it is backed by the majority of both populations. FLAME represents the extreme margins of the discussion; it claims a monopoly on “facts” and justice while dismissing the will of the people most profoundly affected by conflict. Leaders on both sides of the Green Line have a responsibility to prevent fringe groups from stifling the peace process, and they must represent their populations honestly by demonstrating sincere commitment to the two-state solution.
Logan is a fourth-year Middle Eastern and North African Studies student, Levine is a third-year mathematics and economics student and Katz is a first-year pre-international development studies and pre-economics student. Logan, Levine and Katz are members of J Street U at UCLA. Picture: Peter Beinart speaking at J Street U at UCLA’s event hosting him and R’ Chaim Seidler-Feller, Director of UCLA’s Hillel.
J Street is seeking an undergraduate student or recent graduate to intern in our Los Angeles office immediately. This internship is an excellent opportunity to better understand and get involved in J Street’s work. There will be a heavy focus on fundraising and political outreach. This is a great opportunity for someone who wants to learn about the development side of an organization and interns will be able to participate in J Street events, work closely with J Street staff, give feedback, and plan events.
Written by our very own Laura Logan and originally posted in the Harvard International Review.
In response to “Israel Apartheid Week,” a global student campaign that swept across university campuses last month, there has been a great deal of discussion among students and academics concerning Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. As stated in its call to action, the BDS movement seeks to “end the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall, recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.” What remains unclear, however, is the mechanism through which the movement plans to translate its numerous declared successes into actual policy change within Israel. Although the BDS movement points to apartheid South Africa as an example of a country that was profoundly influenced by cultural and academic boycott, it is important to realize that a very different reality exists in Israel.
In Israel, policy seems to operate through a negative feedback loop— one in which a culture of fear and volatility feed into ethnic nationalism. In times of war or perceived threat, self-defense rhetoric emerges in the public forum and fear and nationalism become mutually reinforcing. These elements are historical precursors to the election of right-wing parties, which leads to the construction of right-wing coalitions.
Right-wing coalitions tend to attract international criticism because they increase Israeli settlement and demolition activity. Every critical resolution that passes through the United Nations General Assembly, every rocket that flies over the Gaza border into Israel, every call for divestment (by which Israel is made to feel isolated from the democratic polity), feeds into the culture of fear in Israel— one that harbors memories of three thousand years of repression, the Holocaust, recent suicide bombings— and thus perpetuates oppressive policies.
The BDS movement has failed in its attempt to stop Israel’s negative feedback loop by using external pressure. In fact, its efforts may have aggravated the situation. Since the inception of the BDS movement seven years ago, Israel has actually expanded its settlement activity to an unprecedented level. According to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, approximately 259,988 settlers lived in the West Bank in 2005. That number now exceeds 500,000. In 2011, Palestine’s permanent observer to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, stated that “Israeli settlement activities have increased at least 20% over the past year, with construction initiated on 1,850 units and at least 3,500 units under construction…in 142 illegal settlements and so-called ‘outposts’ in West Bank.” Another Israeli organization, Peace Now, reaffirms these statistics, further asserting that Israel “actually exceeded all past years of settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”
The official BDS website contains a list of musicians who have canceled trips to Israel, universities that have voted in favor of divestment, and corporations that have ended contracts with partners “compliant with apartheid.” However, these claimed “successes” have not translated into any type of meaningful policy change in Israel. If anything, the BDS movement has pushed the Israeli public toward an even more right-wing political climate in which Benjamin Netanyahu will likely remain Prime Minister after the next election.
While boycotts against South Africa were not a decisive force until 1984— twenty five years after the anti-apartheid movement began— the tide shifted only when the United States government jumped on the bandwagon, implementing economic sanctions that crippled the South African economy. It is not likely that the BDS movement against Israel will obtain a similarly powerful ally. The United States government has made it clear that it has no intention of breaking up with Israel, even despite international condemnation. It has vetoed resolutions in the United Nations Security Council that were passed almost unanimously in the General Assembly. A unique relationship exists between the United States and Israel—one that did not exist between the United States and South Africa— which is due largely to a vocal Jewish Diaspora and the United States’ strategic interests in the Middle East. The United States supports the view that the Arab-Israeli conflict cannot be solved through unilateralism, an idea that is antithetical to the BDS movement’s belief that the conflict will be resolved by simply forcing Israel to change.
The BDS movement’s desire to collectively punish all Israelis is problematic because it lumps all Israelis into the category of “occupier” or “oppressor.” This ignores and impedes the fierce debate on the topic that is currently occurring within Israeli society. It implicitly denies the existence of Israelis who oppose occupation. It discounts the harrowing experiences of those Israelis who support military policies due to fear or previous trauma. These experiences need to be confronted and addressed by the parties involved— not by movie stars or foreign universities seeking to make a statement. Such external efforts are not a step in the direction of mutual respect or universal justice, nor are they likely to inspire a departure from ethnic nationalism.
Many organizations, such as Justice for Palestine, argue that engaging in dialogue “normalizes” occupation and presents it as a conflict between equals. While it is important to prevent Israel from controlling the narrative, the denial of dialogue is also a denial of legitimate experience, which in itself is a denial of humanity. Every Israeli and every Palestinian has been touched by the conflict, and every one of them has a story that deserves to be heard. Along these lines, it is important to have organizations that bring to light the human rights abuses that have been occurring in Israel and the Palestinian territories for an unacceptably long time.
However, BDS supporters often push their own narrative and justify academic boycott by stating that they are simply “educating” people about the conflict. The chief aim of Israel Apartheid Week, as stated on its official website, is “to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system.” Such statements may be well-intentioned, but they are also quite condescending. To dictate truth is to suggest superiority over the experiences of others, and to do so with such disinterest in honest dialogue is unpersuasive and irresponsible.
Perhaps truth is found somewhere between these perspectives; even then, it is still subject to interpretation. When the influential actors in the Israel-Palestine discussion— Israelis, Palestinians, Arabs, American Jewry, etc— embrace nuance and learn to respect rather than deny experience, then perhaps some headway can be made in putting an end to the violence through meaningful policy change. However, the BDS movement must also realize that the only way to alter the course of the negative feedback loop is by encouraging internal self-analysis in Israel. This process cannot be forced through alienating tactics like collective punishment.
There is no perfect solution to the conflict. However, it seems unlikely that the BDS movement’s tactics will persuade Israel to allow a full right of return to all Palestinian refugees or the United States to pressure Israel into implementing such a policy. Doing so would essentially destroy Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, since it would complicate Israel’s demographic predicament. For that reason, it is difficult to view the BDS movement as an advocate for mere policy change. While its concern for human rights is genuine and admirable, the BDS movement’s policy objective is tantamount to the dismantlement of the Jewish state – a goal that likely would not receive much public support in the United States. In this way, BDS professes to champion human rights while simultaneously denying the equally valid experiences and rights of Israelis. Self-determination is one such right, and it is held by Israelis and Palestinians alike.
If the BDS movement is truly interested in ending the violence, it should look closely at the two-state solution and try to find a way to make it work. It should partner with pro-Israel, pro-peace groups—groups that seek to change the conversation in Israel— in order to work toward the establishment of a viable Palestinian state that can coexist with Israel next door. We can then focus on helping Israel fix its flawed democracy and achieve its dream of becoming a Jewish and a truly democratic homeland— two ideals that do not have to be incompatible.
An op-ed written in part by our very own Rachael Cameron! As displayed in the LA Jewish Journal:
As founders and leaders of J Street U college and university chapters, we expected the hardest part of our work to be confronting issues on campus like divestment at UC Berkeley, an unwillingness to engage with Israel at Occidental, or a polarized conversation at UCLA that had grown toxic after years of enmity. But in fact, overcoming skepticism, misrepresentation and opposition to our work has proved one of our greatest challenges. And surprisingly, this has come from within our own Jewish community — the very source of so many of the values that inform our passions for Israel.
Given the growing divide between American Jewish youth and Israel, one would imagine that the Jewish community would celebrate the growth of a new pro-Israel student movement. You’d think that, when 60 of our peers from 10 campuses in Portland, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles came together at Occidental College on Jan. 29 to say together, “We are going to build a community of deep devotion and obligation to Israel,” our first West Coast student assembly would be cause for celebration in Hillels and synagogues.
But this is not the case. Many in the Jewish community question our commitment to Israel and its future. Engaging them and securing our rightful place in this conversation has proved a relentless challenge.
Confronting this reality made Rabbi Ed Feinstein’s words at our assembly so inspiring. “No matter what they do to tell you to shut up, don’t shut up,” he told us. “They need you. The Jewish community needs you. Israel needs you.”
Why do you need us?
You need us because traditional Israel advocacy no longer works. It no longer works because it fails to acknowledge the trends that imperil Israel’s future. It no longer works because it doesn’t speak to the Jewish values upon which many of us were raised: to stand with those who suffer; to “repair the world”; to examine, debate and argue with intellectual rigor and respect. And it fails, as Rabbi Feinstein put it at Occidental, “to speak the language of ethical aspiration.”
You need us because pro-Israel advocacy that does not take human rights seriously will fall on deaf ears among our peers. We refuse to ignore or dismiss a human rights catastrophe in the Palestinian territories that, were it to happen anywhere else in the world, would be denounced by Jews everywhere. We refuse to equate the entirety of the Palestinian population with its extremist fringes, just as with Israelis. We will not dismiss a system of legal inequality nor an infrastructure of military rule that denies basic democratic freedom to those who live under it.
You need us because we reject the view that peace is impossible. When our peers approach this issue and say, “Israel is too complicated,” we embrace its complexity with nuance and passion. At a time when each side says the other is no partner for peace, we believe that Israelis, Palestinians, the international community and the United States can and must work together toward a lasting solution.
You need us because, while we are idealists, we are also not blind to the threats Israel faces. Many of us have family and friends in Israel. We understand that the threats are real. Yet just as real are the facts on the ground that threaten any chance of Israel surviving as both a Jewish and democratic state. So long as Israel rules over a people that cannot vote in its elections, the promises we so admire in its Declaration of Independence ultimately remain a dream unfulfilled. We were taught to be a light unto the nations, and we believe in challenging ourselves to answer that call. It is for Israel’s sake that we address its most deep and painful flaws.
We cherish the two great Jewish achievements of our time: the birth of Israel and the success of the American Jewish community. We aim to use our power responsibly. We recognize our privilege and our obligation, and so we relentlessly defend Israel. Yet we know that the right of self-determination is valid for all or not valid at all. We demand for Palestinians the right that we defend for ourselves.
Over the last month, hundreds of J Street U students in Boston; Washington, D.C.; St. Paul. Minn.; and Chicago gathered for assemblies just like ours, and in March, more than 500 more will come to the National J Street Conference in D.C. We invite you to attend. We at J Street U are your children, friends, classmates and fellow citizens, and we are the future of the pro-Israel community. You need us. And Israel needs us all.
Ethan Weiss (Occidental College ’12), Rachael Cameron (UCLA ’12) and Simone Zimmerman (UC Berkeley ’13) founded J Street U chapters on their respective campuses.
JStreet.org — As the drumbeat for war with Iran grows louder veteran diplomats are straining to be heard, urging as Ambassadors Thomas Pickering and William Luers did in the New York Times1, a robust, new diplomatic initiative.
Thankfully, some elected officials are listening, anxious to avoid yet another Middle East war. Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Walter Jones (R-NC) are seeking their colleagues’ signatures on a thoughtful letter2 to the President that supports both sanctions and pressure on Iran as well as a robust diplomatic initiative.
Israel’s former Mossad chief Meir Dagan warned that an attack against Iran “would mean regional war… giv[ing] Iran the best possible reason to continue the nuclear program.” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has also noted that Iran could retaliate against the United States, “sinking our ships, striking our military bases… not only involve[ing] many lives, but I think could consume the Middle East in a confrontation and a conflict that we would regret.”3
The Republican Chair of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers has talked on CNN of the “real problem” that a military strike could cause for the national security interests of the United States4. The Democratic Chair of the Senate’s Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein echoed Ambassadors Pickering and Luers’ call for diplomacy just this weekend5.
Ask your Member of Congress to join the Ellison-Jones letter calling for robust, sustained diplomacy to prevent a costly new war.
 – “Military Action isn’t the only solution to Iran,” by William H. Luers and Thomas Pickering, Washington Post, 12/30/2012.
 – Text of Ellison-Jones Letter
 – What The Experts Are Saying About Iran
 – “Rogers on Increasing Tension with Iran,” State of the Union, CNN, 2/5/2012.
 – “Letter to the Editor: Senator Dianne Feinstein, on Diplomacy with Iran,” New York Times, 2/10/2012.
“Iran Is Ready to Talk,” by Dennis B. Ross, New York Times, 2/14/12.
This is a response to a question asked by Ha’Am, UCLA’s Jewish News Magazine.
Arguably since her birth, the State of Israel has striven and sometimes struggled to reconcile her democratic character and her Jewish character — both of which are guaranteed by the state’s Declaration of Independence. One of the most pressing questions posed by critics of Israel’s policies in the West Bank asks why a true secular democracy, including all of the land and peoples currently under Israel’s control, is not good enough. In your opinion, how important is it — for the Jewish people, for the region, and for the world — that an imperatively Jewish state exists?
I believe it is very important that a Jewish state exists. The Jewish people are justified in their desire to take care of their own and to defend themselves against external threat through the establishment of a state. Jewish nationalism can be validated best by the realization that its aspirations are as legitimate as any other movement for self-determination.
However, saying we support Israel as a Jewish state is not enough. We must define it: “What does it mean for a state to be Jewish?”
Judaism is more than just a religion— it’s a culture and an identity. To envision the Jewish state as theocratic or as one which gives civic preference to its Jewish population would be very narrow interpretations of the concept.
A truly Jewish state would be defined as one that embodies the Jewish values of justice, equality, and tikkun olam by championing full and equal rights for every Israeli citizen, regardless of religion or ethnicity. It would promote the democratic values laid out in its Declaration of Independence and be genuine in its efforts to pursue peace with its neighbors. Encompassing these basic Jewish values will not only make it a Jewish state, but a Jewish state of which I can be proud.
4th Year, Middle Eastern and North African Studies Major
Co-Chair and Founder, J Street U at UCLA
Friendship can be forged under the most unlikely circumstances: A joint letter to the editor between J Street U and the Muslim Student Association at UCLA.
J Street U at UCLA and the Muslim Student Association would like formally thank the David Horowitz Freedom Center for providing us with this opportunity to find common ground against a common problem.
On Oct. 13 , the David Horowitz Freedom Center published an ad in the Daily Bruin titled “Not All Fears Are Phobias,” wrongly identifying Islam as a perpetrator of terrorism worldwide. By submitting the ad to our campus newspaper, the DHFC sought to bring its politics of division and fear to our campus community. Instead, it became a rallying point between two populations with viewpoints that often conflict. J Street U at UCLA and the Muslim Student Association have joined in solidarity to demonstrate to campus that we must rise above messages that intend to tear us apart.
No, really. This wouldn’t have happened if you had not published this. David Horowitz, you are truly a peacemaker.
The ad presents one step in a campaign to isolate the American Muslim community, all but labeling the entire community a security threat. The David Horowitz Freedom Center attempts to legitimize a policy of exclusion and suspicion of American Muslims and galvanize a susceptible population against them.
The Horowitz ad has made students on campus feel uncomfortable, upset and unsafe. While Muslim students feel it attacks their personal identity, others see the ad as unrepresentative of their values. This ad creates an environment where a specific community feels unsure of whether it can express its identity without fear of backlash or condemnation. The university has an obligation to protect its students in this capacity, especially when UCLA is among the most diverse campuses in the United States.
The campus Muslim community expressed widespread dismay and unease over the message embedded in the ad. They were outraged at being implicated in the actions of extremists, a tiny percentage of the overall population. Many members of the MSA felt unsafe and wary of a campus that might have endorsed a blanket criminalization of a religion rather than attributing blame to the individuals who committed the crimes.
If the David Horowitz Freedom Center really wanted to combat extremism, it would be urging us to communicate and learn from our classmates instead of preaching a dogma of intolerance. In actuality, placing the ad encourages the spread of extremism, divides our community and leads to demonization of student populations.
How can an organization that is against anti-Semitism condone Islamophobia? We feel that anyone against the former yet allowing the latter is applying a double standard to our neighboring communities. From J Street U’s standpoint, the Jewish values that we have been brought up on will not allow us to condone the oppression of any society, for our community is not exclusive to this experience. Our religious and ethnic memory is stained with millennia of oppression, and we pity those who have not learned from it. Our community suffered greatly, and we will do whatever we can to make sure others do not have to.
The solidarity shown by non-Muslim students for fellow Muslim students has helped to mitigate the dismay experienced by the MSA and wider Muslim community. Several members of the Muslim community stated that they felt reassured by the display of shared sympathy and very much appreciated the verbal expressions of support. The MSA and J Street U at UCLA decided to take this opportunity to collaborate and show the campus that personal friendships and logical arguments always trump fear.
It’s not only about the Jewish and Muslim communities. No community on or off campus should be demonized or disrespected. Instead of fostering fear and rejection, it’s our duty to try to understand each other’s cultures or viewpoints. The great thing about UCLA is the diversity of its student community. It takes special courage to approach the “other,” but it is always worth the risk.
J Street U and the Muslim Student Association at UCLA envision a campus where we’re not afraid to share our experiences, our cultures and our identities. Everyone does not need to agree, but everyone should be allowed to present their own viewpoints. The kind of ad that propagates fear of the “other,” but doesn’t allow that “other” community to speak for itself, is not what we need on campus. We don’t want a campus where people are scared of each other and where students are discouraged from interacting with people whom they disagree with or see as different. With this collaboration, we have taken our first step toward realizing this vision. We invite the campus community to join us.
This message is a joint response from J Street U at UCLA and the Muslim Student Association, written in collaboration between Fowzia Sharmeen, Jared Schwalb and Gabriel Levine, a UCLA alumna, fourth-year student and third-year student, respectively.
The original letter to the editor can be found on dailybruin.com.
(The above picture was taken during J Street U at UCLA’s Interfaith Shabbat with UCLA’s Muslim Student Association.)
As the Palestinians go to the United Nations to apply for statehood, some in the U.S Congress are gearing up to pass punitive measures in response. In retaliation to the Palestinian initiative, many representatives are threatening to cut all aid — over 500 million dollars a year — to the Palestinian Authority.
US aid serves two purposes:
- Much of the money goes to security operations which prevent violence against Israel;
- The remaining funds support schools, hospitals, and civil society in the West Bank.
Cutting such aid could prove very damaging.
David Makovsy, the director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Project on the Middle East Peace Process, concludes that “if Congressional aid to the Palestinian Authority is suspended and Palestinian security officials…go unpaid, the risk of terror attacks against Israel will grow. So who pays the price for such a cut-off? Let us not kid ourselves. We know what the consequences will be.”
Thankfully, some members of Congress are urging the President to stop such possible aid cuts. But they need our support. That’s why J Street U has launched our campaign: “Fund Peace: Ensure Israel’s Security. Support Palestinian Civil Society.”
TELL CONGRESS: DON’T CUT AID TO THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY
As the first step in our campaign, we’re supporting a letter by Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Peter Welch (D-VT) to the President which says that, “the suspension or ending of U.S. aid could undermine the very foundations of a future Palestinian state, undoing the progress that has been made in recent years toward strengthening the PA’s security and governing institutions.”
As supporters of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, we are asking you to send a letter to your representative in Congress asking them to sign the Price-Welch letter. It’s important that they hear from those of us committed to peace and security that we support aid to the PA.
THIS LETTER MATTERS. Many in Congress are fighting to prove who can be more anti-Palestinian. We need to let them know that we see through the rhetoric and are standing with the Israelis and Palestinians who live with this conflict and will suffer the actual consequences of such shortsighted action.
The J Street U at UCLA Team
Check out Steven Colbert’s interview with J Street President and founder Jeremy Ben-Ami. You can order Jeremy’s book, “A New Voice for Israel: Fighting for the Survival of the Jewish Nation”, here.Read More
Thanks to the generous support of J Streeters across the country, we are proud to announce J Street U’s first student leadership trip to Israel, Engage with Israel: Peace, Democracy, and Social Justice.
The trip — from Sunday, June 12th to Thursday, June 25th — will provide students with an unparalleled opportunity to develop relationships with the many Israelis and Palestinians — grassroots activists, lawyers, politicians, journalists and security personnel — working on behalf of peace, democracy, and social justice. Engage with Israel participants will experience the texture of Israeli life and explore the diverse landscapes, cultures, and peoples of the Jewish homeland. Attendees will also meet with Palestinian organizers, politicians, and human rights advocates in the West Bank.
Engage with Israel is the next chapter of J Street U’s student pro-Israel, pro-peace activism. At J Street’s just-concluded national conference, over 500 students joined with more than 2,000 supporters in Washington, DC. The energy of the students at the conference was contagious, and the impressive number of young people in attendance was a constant topic of conversation throughout the weekend.
This level of enthusiasm should come as no surprise. For too long on college campuses across the country students have been asked to make a false choice: support Israel or stand up for their ideals of democracy, justice, and human rights. At the conference, students made it clear that they were forging a new path – one in which their commitment to Israel was consonant with their values.
In its inaugural year, J Street U’s Engage with Israel trip will accept 12 to 15 students. The cost of the trip is $500, and J Street U will work with all accepted students to raise the necessary funds on campus and through other means – resources will not limit any student’s participation.
Applications are open to all undergraduate students regardless of background or previous experience in Israel or with Middle East issues.