How long has it been since you last noticed a news article about Israel? Better yet, how many such articles have you noticed today? This week?
Israel is the hot topic in the media these days, and not for the best of reasons. In case you haven’t paid much attention to the headlines, the media’s constant attacks on Israel range from accusations of occupation and excessive force to apartheid. These nonfactual, ridiculous claims stir emotions of fear, anger, and hatred towards the State of Israel before people can even think to challenge their truthfulness.
I have spent countless hours studying and researching the Arab-Israeli conflict, including two stays in Israel in the past ten months. Most recently, I returned from a trip sponsored by Hasbara Fellowships, an organization that brings college students to Israel to see the conflict up close. Over the course of sixteen days, students visit relevant sites, including those within the territories, and hear from speakers on both sides of the conflict. My hard work and thorough training have enabled me to realize that the media’s portrayals are incredibly biased and narrow-minded, often to the point of complete falsehood.
The Thursday before break began, while attending BC Hillel’s “Schmooze with Jews” for students and faculty, I found myself conversing with one of my peers about our love of Israel. She was a Jewish student, like myself, and had travelled to Israel with Taglit Birthright, a program that provides Jewish young adults a chance to travel to Israel for ten days. Like me, this student could not wait for another opportunity to return to Israel.
Despite our shared love of Israel, my introduction of the topic of Israeli advocacy brought a response that deeply shocked me: “Yeah, hasn’t Israel been extensively violating human rights?” I could not believe my ears. Here was another Jewish student, in love with Israel, who was successfully influenced by the media’s false claims. I did not blame her, but I then realized how important my job really was.
While I cannot say I approve of every decision Israel has ever made, I can confidently say that Israel is a model of democracy, human rights, and innovation within the Middle East. Unfortunately, Israel is constantly forced into the impossible position of defending herself from a multitude of enemies who do not act in the same manner.
As Co-President of Eagles for Israel, it is my responsibility to share this message and foster the education of the Boston College community in regards to Israel both politically and culturally. I challenge students to take the extra step to investigate these matters and formulate their own opinions. We are not here to force anyone to love Israel, but merely to provide you with enough information to understand that you can’t believe everything you hear on the news, no matter whom it’s from.
Eagles for Israel is hosting its kickoff program, Israel Peace Week, co-sponsored by Hasbara Fellowships, this week (March 11-15). Please check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/EaglesforIsraelBC for more information about the group and IPW.