A first-of-its-kind conference took place this week for pro-Israel student leaders and young professionals. Titled “Israel in Focus”, the event was hosted by StandWithUs UK in partnership with the Israeli Embassy.
Over 60 participants, Jewish and non-Jewish, assembled for a full-day Sunday conference from around the country. A wide variety of speakers gave voice to the need for effective advocacy for Israel and the building of coalitions to get the message across.
Left to right: young pro-Israel leaders at the conference, students reading StandWithUs resources A video made by StandWithUs was shown, exposing the BDS (Boycott / Divestment and Sanctions against Israel) campaign as anti-peace and pushing for the annihilation of Israel. Speakers included a Palestinian PhD student of Jordanian descent, who challenged those leading anti-Israel campaigns and criticised boycott Israel attempts as not addressing the needs of the Palestinian people. Israel expert and lawyer Andrew White, founder of ‘Beyond Images’ urged participants to “oppose lies about Israel because an environment of hatred is not conducive to peace”. Non-Jewish blogger Chas Newkey-Burden gave a masterclass on effective advocacy for Israel online via new media, including Twitter and Facebook.
President of UCL J-Soc,Tom Wilson, spoke about the need for free speech for all and decried violent anti-Israel protests that have stopped certain speakers from addressing campus events. Asserting his friendship for Israel, Dwayne Ryan Menezes, an Indian PhD student at the LSE told the audience that “being pro-Israel is not just a Jewish issue”. In his invitation to the participants, Ambassador Ron Prosor said “I am delighted to host StandWithUs at this unique training seminar for young activist leaders in the UK, designed to empower young adults to be informed, active, articulate advocates for Israel”.
Speakers at the conference included Deputy Ambassador Alon Roth-Snir, StandWithUs Israel Director Michael Dickson and StandWithUs UK Chairperson Joy Wolfe MBE.
Participants respond positively to the conference – here are some comments: "Congratulations StandWithUs – an amazing and inspiring day" – Chas Newkey-Burden, speaker "The booklets are amazing! Thanks so much for today, it was really informative and interesting." – Oliver, student at Nottingham University "Superb; now I feel I have the tools I need to stand up for Israel" – Josh, Leeds University "Amazing event with inspiring speakers" – Tal, young professional and former LSE student "Thanks for a very informative day – I am ready to help further the cause!" – Simon, young professional