Student Group Addresses Stereotypes And Aims To Promote True Israeli Culture
Published: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Updated: Sunday, October 20, 2013 23:10
One of the most highly controversial and misrepresented conflicts in modern history rests in the territorial and political conflict that is the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Jewish Israelites and Arab Palestinians are currently fighting over the claims to the “West Bank,” home of many different religious sites for the Jewish, Muslims, and Christians. With a predominantly negative light shown on Israel as mistreating basic human rights of those in Palestine and the West Bank, one group on campus hopes to correct misleading beliefs and support the peacefulness of Israel. Eagles for Israel supports Israel’s fundamental right to exist as the Jewish homeland, a sovereign nation in the historic land of the Jewish people within secure and recognized borders.
Student Coalition for Israel began as a way to put a pro-Israel voice on campus. By the time the founders had established the group, however, graduation was upon them a few months later. That is when Co-Presidents Michael Woodbury, CSOM ’14, and Andrew Ferenczi, A&S ’14, along with Vice President Alexander Friedman, A&S ’14, began to transform the coalition into the newly reformed Eagles for Israel in January 2013.
“We renamed the organization to give more of a cultural feel to show students that we are more than an all business group,” Woodbury said. “We hope to support Israel through promotion and education of Israeli culture. We want to show students that there is more going on in Israel than just war, violence, and terrorism.”
Woodbury, Ferenczi, and Friedman first ventured to Israel to partake in a training program that would allow them to lead their group and teach them how to educate the student body. They were given tours of holy sites and taught the fundamentals of how to share facts and how to engage in political advocacy for Israel.
The group began its first full year at this September’s Student Activities Fair. Eagles for Israel now has a board of 13 people, with a majority of underclassmen to keep the club running for many years to come.
“Eagles For Israel is committed to providing a fair and accurate portrayal of Israel through cultural, educational, and political initiatives while supporting Israel’s right to exist,” according to its mission statement. The group is not exclusive to students who religiously affiliate themselves with Judaism, but all those in support of promoting factual information about the conflict in Israel and combatting false or exaggerated information posed by the media. “Through our Facebook page, we hope to give out as much positive information as we can,” Woodbury said. “However, we also have to defend our position and ensure that the information posed against Israel isn’t fabricated.”
The group hopes to hold many events this year, including an upcoming “Krav Maga” series. Eagles for Israel hopes to partner with the Student Martial Arts club in the upcoming weeks to give lessons on this Israeli form of martial arts.
“With an uprising of awareness of ‘rape culture,’ we wanted to give students the opportunity to learn this form of self defense,” Woodbury said. Krav Maga is designed for the Israeli military and focuses mainly on body manipulation and how to defend oneself against attackers who can be much larger. Amid a stereotypically “violent” mood surrounding Israel, Eagles for Israel hopes to promote the non-violent and peaceful nature of the Israeli culture. Woodbury also offers the incentive of an array of Israeli food at the event to give participants a taste of the country’s cuisine.
Eagles for Israel also hope to participate in “International Education Week” by featuring a speaker and film accompanied by a discussion of the conflict in Israel.
“[The conflict] is not perfect and everything isn’t black and white,” Woodbury said. “As an Israel support group on campus, we hope to educate all those of the conflict and show the positive aspects of Israel’s culture.” n