Students for Israel hosted a public event on Wayne State’s campus that highlighted Israel’s accomplishments in technology and medicine.
Students for Israel hosted a public event on Wayne State’s campus that highlighted Israel’s accomplishments in technology and medicine.

Wayne State student group enhances Israel’s reputation on campus.

Student groups on American campuses can have an underestimated influence on social change.

During times like these, where mainstream celebrities feel free to spread their shocking views of the Jewish religion and Israel; where politicians are publicly criticizing American Jewish communities and Israel’s policy in a way that aligns with their own interest; and where leading colleges around the nation are taking steps to develop “Jewish Free Zones,” we must take action.

I was lucky enough to take advantage of the Birthright trip during my sophomore year of college. On the plane ride back home, I realized that I wanted and needed to get more actively involved and connected with the State of Israel. That’s when I chose to learn more about the Wayne State Hillel. I was given the chance to become an Applebaum intern and connect Jewish and pro-Israel students to the Hillel of Metro Detroit and the Wayne State community. Through this internship, I was connected to the Students for Israel (SFI) student group and knew I had to get involved.

I started to attend SFI events and was even a part of a select group of students to represent Wayne State at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Florida. During the summit, I got to develop relationships with different segments of Israeli society and hear from a range of highly regarded speakers on topics such as defense, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and agricultural technology, which Israeli society is working to enhance.

The knowledge I have gained throughout my experiences has enabled me to assume the role of president for Students for Israel. Our group hosts political and cultural events to broaden the Wayne State community’s familiarity with the State of Israel and its astonishing achievements around the world.

Being a pro-Israel student at Wayne State University presents its own set of challenges. Not many students see Israel as a place of pro-West, pro-freedom and pro-democracy. Numerous influential student groups on our campus work actively to undermine the image of Israel among the student population on campus through the spread of false information.

Our SFI group meets on a weekly basis to discuss the current anti-Israel trends and actions being taken on campus and discuss ways to combat them. To further our mission, our group recently held a leadership retreat that focused on targeting and training the next pro-Israel leaders on campus.

To spread our message to the greater campus community, we hosted a public event in an area with the largest foot-traffic on campus, highlighting Israel’s accomplishments in the fields of technology and medicine innovation.

We are currently working on a trip to Israel geared toward non-Jewish Wayne State student leaders, to educate them further about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to combat the biases and the spread of misinformation.

Overall, this has been a very meaningful journey in my college career. I started out as being indifferent about the way people think and speak about Israel to now leading a group of pro-Israel students at Wayne State to effectively stand up for what they believe in.

We look forward to continuing to make Wayne State a safe, comfortable and inviting college campus to Jewish and pro-Israel students. @

Jeremy Soper, a senior at Wayne State, is the SFI president and StandWithUs Emerson Fellow at Hillel of Metro Detroit.

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