New York, NY, August 25, 2011 … A group of students representing U.S. colleges and universities experienced Israel firsthand during an eight-day trip designed to give campus leaders a fuller picture of the land and its people.
The students, selected by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to participate in its annual ADL Campus Leaders Mission to Israel, traveled in Israel August 8-16, where they met with representatives of the culturally, politically and religiously diverse population and engaged with decision-makers and community leaders. The students learned about strategic and social challenges facing Israel and toured the historically and geographically significant land. Mission participants also had the opportunity to meet with student organizers of the ongoing Israeli tent protests and learn about their call for social justice.
The 17 students selected for the mission hold significant leadership positions on their campuses in areas such as student government, journalism, and advocacy.
"Informed discussion about Israel on campus begins with an understanding of the issues, the history and the geography of the land," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "And it begins with a respect and appreciation for the differing narratives of Israelis and Palestinians, Christians, Muslims and Jews. That was the starting point for this mission, which attempts to open the door to critical thinking and informed discussion on campus. We hope that the students will bring home with them a new perspective and deeper understanding of the issues surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
The mission aims to ensure that campus leaders understand the nature and complexity of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The students had an opportunity to visit key sites related to Israel's history and to hear firsthand from a wide variety of experts on the current situation and prospects for peace in the region. They met with Israeli and Palestinian journalists, students, military and government officials and average citizens.
Among the students' comments on their experiences:
- "Being in Israel, I was surprised that there is so much more going on there than what the media shows. There are many other cultures, other initiatives, other positive things happening. It's not a country of bombs and terror – it's a country of culture."
- "In Israel, I gained a better context for the conflict by seeing the relative size of everything. I noticed the non-homogenous nature of the Israeli opinion and how ready most are to strike an agreement. When I return to campus, I hope to bring greater awareness of the need for mutual recognition of legitimacy in order to resolve the conflict."
- "Israel is a country that despite its many problems still functions wholly and successfully. I hope to educate my peers about the importance of Israel in the Middle East and that its spirit and dreams cannot be taken for granted."
This year's student leaders represented 16 schools:
Brown University, Providence, RI; California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA; Clark University, Worcester, MA; Duke University, Durham, NC; Emory University, Atlanta, GA; George Mason University, Fairfax County, VA; Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, MO; Northwestern University, Evanston, IL; University of California, Los Angeles, CA; University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; University of California, Santa Cruz, CA; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL; University of North Texas, Denton, TX; University of Oregon, Eugene, OR; University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA; and Utah Valley University, Orem, UT.
The mission is made possible by the generosity of the Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation and the Mirowski Family Foundation and is coordinated through ADL's office in Israel.Ca