At the Adam and Gila Milstein foundation, we often find ourselves doing a million things at once: evaluating grant applications and pitches from organizations seeking our support, linking our partner organizations with one another, responding to media outlets seeking our input, and (my personal favorite) getting new and exciting initiatives off the ground. The list goes on and on.
We try our best to remain connected with every single passionate person looking to become more involved in the fight to defend Israel and safeguard the Jewish homeland.
At the Foundation, we answer every single email looking for the opportunity to get involved with pro-Israel activism or looking for a place to critically engage with Israel.
In the hopes of offering a more comprehensive and efficient platform to have everyone’s questions answered, I’m writing a three-part series of blogs offering advice on how you can get involved to make a big difference today. Below you will find my second blog.
Part 2: Campus Battlegrounds
In my first post, I talked about the vital role education plays in developing a community of activists. The atmosphere on American college campuses today crystallizes the importance of education in our fight to defend the Israel. American college campuses are at the epicenter of a growing movement to delegitimize and destroy the state of Israel. With the effective advocacy strategies, we can harness the power of our community to reverse the growing tide of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism on college campuses. Here’s how:
- On Campus:
For the first time in history, American college campuses no longer have a pro-Israel majority. The movement to delegitimize Israel is gaining traction, and there is a pressing need for our pro-Israel students, academics, and community leaders to fight back.
- “Know Your Rights” is a new legal handbook for students that was created at the request of students and with the input of constitutional lawyers. The booklet informs students of their rights on campus and apprises them of effective ways to fight anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and BDS.
- http://www.endbds.com/or 1.844.END.BDS7 are a website and hotline that connect pro-bono lawyers with pro-Israel students, faculty, community members, and businesses combatting anti-Israel activity in need of legal help. Students and others can complete an online intake form or call the hotline to receive free legal help.
- University faculty are encouraged to join Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME).
- Students are encouraged to join one or more of the following pro-Israel student organizations:
If you’re in New York, try to get involved with Fuel for Truth
- Become a campus fellow for one of the following organizations:
- Apply for micro-grants for pro-Israel activism*:
- Hasbara Fellowships – Grant Request Form
- Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) – ICC Microgrants
- Milstein Family Foundation (yes, self-promotion) – Milstein Micro-Grants for Student Led Initiatives
* I am not a student, and I am sure that there are plenty of other wonderful opportunities out there for grants – please write to me to inform me of other resources that are available to students.
- In High School:
Engaging students is a critical part of cultivating pro-Israel activism. But we can’t limit our focus to college campuses — we need to engage students at a young age, beginning in high school.
There are numerous organizations and programs specifically for high school students. Some of the best include:
- AIPAC Schusterman high school program
- Alexander Muss High School in Israel
- Bnei Akiva
- Israel Scouts (Tzofim)
- Jewish National Fund
- Jewish Student Union (JSU)
- Step Up for Israel
- United Synagogue Youth (USY)
- Most local Federation and synagogues have high school programs that engage teens with Israel
- Send your child to Israel, period. Exposing teenagers and young adults to Israel can be an important step in cultivating a relationship with Israel. Birthright Israel, for example, is both fun and educational.
- Make sure your son or daughter is familiar with all of the aforementioned organizations, as well as:
- Get involved yourself. Parents can request to meet with school officials to discuss what the administration is doing to ensure that the campus is a safe, open, and friendly environment for Jewish and pro-Israel students.
- Engage your alma mater:
For those of us who went to university, our alumni networks are a powerful, yet often untapped, network for pro-Israel advocacy.
- Connect with Amcha Initiative and CAMERA, who will help you contact college administrators and offer advice on how to engage your alumni network.
- Read and engage with your college’s newspaper. You may be shocked to learn that your campus has become increasingly hostile to Israel, and it’s important that you have facts to support the concerns you will share with college administrators and other alumni.
- If you’re a campus donor – leverage that to demand a better environment for Jewish students.
Student organizations need financial support, professional guidance, and resources. As Jewish students face increasingly hostile campus environments, support from their community is more important than ever.