Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub and Member of Parliament Louise Mensch joined more than 120 pro-Israel student leaders at a unique "Israel in Focus" conference run by StandWithUs UK. Jewish students from all over the UK joined Muslim and Christian friends of Israel in Central London for a full-day Sunday conference. 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.
Opening the conference, Ambassador Taub said, "When it comes to any project for Israel that we need to get off the ground, the people that step up to the plate are StandWithUs. I am excited, relieved and delighted that StandWithUs is operating in the UK."
Students gather in London's Canning House for the StandWithUs conference
Media Training workshops helped students feel confident communicating about Israel to others
Louise Mensch MP, who took the BBC to task over their failure to adequately cover the murders of the young Fogel family in Israel in March of this year, said the reaction to her stand had been overwhelming. She was overcome with emotion as she recalled the horrific crime, which left five members of the same family dead, including three-month old Hadas. At the time of the incident,Mensch wrote an article in the "Daily Telegraph" newspaper condemning the BBC.
Prior to her arrival, Mensch was attacked in an article on the "Liberal Conspiracy" blog and anti-Israel activists took to Twitter to criticize her attendance. In response, Mensch tweeted her article on the Fogel massacre and said that the article was why she was asked to address young Jews "lest we forget Hadas Fogel". Addressing the conference, she said "I'm proud to stand with Israel."
The day was divided into lectures and workshops, with students sharing strategies of how to counter boycott campaigns and those who wish to stifle free speech about Israel on campus. A panel of Jewish Society heads and non-Jewish advocates for Israel, included Hasan Afsal, head of British Muslims for Israel.
Another pro-Israel Muslim, Kasim Hafeez said "As a British Muslim I encourage more people to get involved StandWithUs – they provided me with the facts I needed to challenge the propaganda I was being taught".
StandWithUs Europe Director, Tanya Stern presents the work of the organization
The conference culminated the first year of operation for StandWithUs UK, which has seen the organization grow to a nationwide campus network, working with Jewish schools and youth movements both in UK and with British youth on gap year programs in Israel. Students were given a variety of educational resources, both exposing misinformation about Israel and highlighting Israel's achievements.
Oliver Cooper, a student at the College of Law commented, "I had the opportunity to visit Israel with StandWithUs in the summer and because I'm not Jewish, that experience and this conference has given me the knowledge and skills to speak confidently about Israel, on campus and off".
StandWithUs Europe Director, Tanya Stern said, "It was inspirational to see so many students who are proud and now better prepared to educate their peers about Israel on British campuses. It was a unique event, designed to empower young adults to be informed, active, articulate advocates for Israel”.
Left to Right: StandWithUs UK Chairman, Joy Wolfe, Louise Mensch MP, StandWithUs Israel Director Michael Dickson and UK Executive Gili Brenner
The Jewish Chronicle highlights the StandWithUs UK Student Conference - standing with Israel in the UK!