By Diana Burmistrovich/JNS.org
Click photo to download. Caption: Participants of the Aug. 18-20 CAMERA Student
Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference in Boston. Credit: Samantha Rose Mandeles for CAMERA.
BOSTON–Lighting up the screen at Boston
University Hillel is a progression map of Israel titled “Palestinian Loss
of Land.” The image isn’t surprising to the students attending the annual
Student Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference of the Committee for
Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). Similar sights are
frequent at their own schools.
“During Israel Apartheid Week, there are a lot
of skits and performances. Students wrap keffiyehs
around their heads and people mock Israel while dressed as IDF soldiers,”
said Beata Samel, a CAMERA Campus Activist Project (CCAP) student representing
City University of New York (CUNY) Brooklyn.
Highlighting the growing need to combat anti-Israel
campaigns on campus, and equipping pro-Israel students with the tools to
motivate others to action, is the focus
of the student conference of CAMERA, the Boston-based media watchdog that seeks
to promote accurate news coverage and commentary about Israel and the Middle
Click photo to download. Caption: Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby speaks at the recent CAMERA Student
Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference. Credit: Samantha Rose Mandeles for CAMERA.
In attendance from Aug. 18-20 were students
ranging from native Israelis, to those that have never been to the Jewish state,
those planning their Birthright trip experience, and those that have already
served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Some pro-Israel students at the
conference–like CAMERA Fellow Abraham Mercado, who was the only Jew among 8,000
students at Morgan State University before transferring to Florida Atlantic
University–have faced significant isolation on campus.
After finishing his IDF service, Scott
Ehrenberg, a CCAP student at CUNY Queens, asked himself how he could support
Israel despite being back in the United States.
“The least we can do is to advocate for Israel,”
said Ehrenberg, “to hold events on campus wherever we go to college in order to
protect and support Israel’s name.”
Twenty-six of CAMERA’s yearlong Fellows joined
the organization’s CCAP participants for the three-day conference to learn
skills they can bring back to their campuses. According to CAMERA Regional
Campus Coordinator Gilad Skolnick, “arguments of the heart and arguments of the
mind are the best weaponry” in defense of Israel.
For the CAMERA Fellows, the conference marked
the beginning of their yearlong program. Chosen for their commitment to
countering anti-Israel activity at their schools, 53 students representing 39
colleges partake in a series of events meant to help them organize pro-Israel
events like CAMERA’s “Less Hamas, More Hummus” campaign.
The campaign, which all Fellows are required to
run on their campus, was inspired by student Ellie Rudee, the current president
of Claremont McKenna College’s CCAP initiative, who drew on Hamas’s own
materials to educate students on her campus about the biases against Israel in