Educating young people to advocate for and defend Israel on college campuses was the main thrust of Hadassah Southern New Jersey’s annual education symposium on May 13 at Forsgate Country Club in Monroe.
Jerry Enis, who serves as the public relations consultant for Rutgers Hillel, said Israel’s “enemies” have learned to intimidate pro-Israel students, often with the help of like-minded faculty.
“Their message, when it’s not disruptive bullying, is filled with historical inaccuracies and often just plain lies,” said Enis, adding many Jewish students are vulnerable because they know little about Israel.
Rutgers Hillel executive director Andrew Getraer said that pro-Israel students may have many issues on their plates, while for Israel’s critics “it is their single focus in life.”
Hillel at Rutgers, which has the second-largest Jewish population of any college in the United States, has had success by creating an Israel board, training students on handling bullying tactics, and building relationships with alumni, faculty, and administration, as well as with student clubs, government, media, and other organizations.
Yet the greatest achievement, said Getraer, is “what has not happened at Rutgers.”
“Our campus folks know there is a very strong pro-Israel movement on campus,” explained Getraer. “There have been dozens of BDS resolutions on campuses. Most have been defeated. But at Rutgers there has never been a resolution even introduced to the board of governors or student government.”
Hillel, said Getraer, even secured pledges from the last several student government presidents that no such resolution would be brought to the floor under their administrations.
Other speakers and workshop leaders at the conference included Shahar Azani, executive director of the Northeast region of StandWithUs; Elad Strohmayer, deputy Israeli consul general of the Mid-Atlantic Region; and Howard Joffe, a Cherry Hill-based management consultant and Rider University professor.