Advocacy is changing

By Deborah Brown, December 15, 2011

At UJIA we understand that campus life is a hotbed for social, economic and political dialogue. With this in mind we created an Israel Education Campus Roadshow for university students.

The roadshow travelled to six campuses last month, engaging large numbers of students in current Israel education. It presented new avenues for accessing Israel education for students as well as explaining the situation on the ground in Israel.

The need to foster a new type of Israel education on campus allows educators to engage with students via new platforms, moving away from more traditional expressions of emotional ties to Israel and advocacy platforms, to looking more at the state of Israel today.

The events introduced topics raised by the Trachtenberg Committee, set to examine and propose solutions to Israel's socio-economic problems. Students related to some of the issues raised by the protesters concerning access to affordable housing and the high cost of key commodities.

Our campus tour took on other current affairs topics including the Palestinian application for statehood, Israel's response and the aftermath of the recent Shalit prisoner exchange.

By studying articles and clips from the British and Israeli press and TV, and having the opportunity to present their own opinions, students discovered there is less opportunity for bias within campus Israel advocacy and a better chance for engagement with other students.

The roadshow was a successful small step to change the face of campus education and will be followed up by online seminars for those who attended.

It is clear that the way students are engaging with Israel on campus is changing. Israel education needs to be current.

Gone are the days of tired presentations on the history of Zionism. Organisations must meet the needs of our students if we are to have real impact on campus education.

Deborah Brown is leadership developer at UJIA's informal education department

Last updated: 11:32am, December 15 2011