In October, five Wayne State University students involved in Hillel of Metro Detroit and WSU Students for Israel attended the sixth annual Diplomatic Conference for Student Leaders hosted by the consulate general of Israel to the Midwest.
During 24 hours in Chicago, we had the opportunity to explore, meet new people and develop relationships with young, pro-Israel leaders from all over the Midwest. We bonded over our love for Israel and our passion to gain support from others, and bounced ideas off each other on how to be pro-Israel on campus. We also heard from some incredible, insightful speakers, and we did some networking as well.
Prior to the conference, it’s fair to say each of us had a different understanding of what Israel advocacy and Israel education look like. We had certainly not been exposed to the strategies and the people who helped guide us through our day-long conference. Sure, you can rally against a protest, or you can try to talk to individuals; but on a larger scale, how can you really make a difference?
Ilan Sinelnikov, co-founder of Students Supporting Israel, ran a session that educated us on building coalitions with other groups on campus. We were assigned a different student group based on race or ethnicity, and we tried to create different events that would allow us to collaborate and reach a wider audience. We immediately realized just how hard it is to pair another group with Students Supporting Israel because it is incredibly difficult to find allies on campus.
Additionally, Julian Markowitz, Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) director of Israel Engagement, taught us different ways we can positively combat anti-Israel rhetoric without silencing the other side. By simply offering a different idea or a different direction of thinking, you can capture the 60-80 percent of people who are undecided when it comes to this conflict.
The conference also provided exemplary chances to meet new people. Itay Milner and Zoe Kellner work for the consul general in Chicago, and Ari Feinstein works for an Israeli media outlet called Israel21c. At the end of the conference, he asked us to pick an article from the Israel21c website. Then he asked what we liked best about it and how it could be improved. He said Israel21c is looking for digital ambassadors — people who work for Israel21c through a paid internship; all we had to do was apply. I was eager to apply and was eventually accepted to the program. This would not have been possible had I️ not attended the conference.
Overall, we had a wonderful time; we learned plenty about effective advocacy and education, and we are excited for more opportunities like this one.
Jeremy Rosenberg, Leah Langnas and Alex McInnis } jewish@edu writers
Jeremy Rosenberg, Leah Langnas and Alex McInnis are freshmen at Wayne State University and are members of WSU’s Students for Israel group.