September 15, 2011 / 16 Eul 5771
Agency-Trained Campus Emissaries at Forefront of Coordinated Initiative at 15 Major Universities
Large Tents on Campus to Serve as Forums for Dialogue about Israel and the Middle East
New York — Ahead of the UN General Assembly, where the Palestinian Authority is taking its bid for an independent state, young Jewish Agency campus shlichim (emissaries) are spearheading “Talk Israel” on 15 major North American campuses. This initiative, started by Hillel’s Center for Israel Engagement, aims to foster dialogue regarding the complex realities in the Middle East. By creating friendly and open venues on campus, students can engage in respectful dialogue and raise issues relating to the peace process and the Palestinian Authority’s initiative at the UN.
These venues, large white tents, will be pitched on campuses on September 20 and 21. The tents will house AV equipment, including a video conferencing system to allow various speakers to address the students, as well as educational materials and historical documents.
Campus shlichim, dynamic young Israeli adults recruited and trained by the Jewish Agency, are playing an instrumental role in this program at the following universities: University of California-Berkeley, Columbia University, Cornell University, George Washington University, McGill and Concordia Universities, University at Binghamton, University of Florida, the University of Maryland, University of Arizona, University of Toronto, University of Vermont, University of Miami, University of Delaware, Michigan State and in Pittsburgh.
University campuses are one of the main arenas for the global campaign to delegitimize Israel. Jewish Agency campus shlichim are aggressively challenging this narrative and working hard to expose the complex realities of the Middle East to Jewish and non-Jewish students alike. The campus shlichim, formally known as Jewish Agency Israel Fellows to Hillel, also represent the primary address on campus for Israel experience programs like Birthright and Masa.
In total, there are Jewish Agency campus shlichim on 50 campus. Under the direction of Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, the number of campus shlichim has expanded from only 18 in 2009.
"This is our answer to the war against Israel’s legitimacy that is being waged around the world; to bring Jewish students to Israel and to foster in them a sense of belonging, identity and pride," said Sharansky.