In early spring, college students across the country are exposed to the most fervent anti-Israel activity on their campuses. The annual so-called “Israel Apartheid Week” spreads lies and negativity on campus surrounding the State of Israel. Proponents use it as a vehicle to promote BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions), the anti-Israel camp’s favorite weapon of de-legitimizing the Jewish State. There is nothing constructive happening there; and if that is the only image of Israel that students get exposed to during their campus experience, they will understandably walk away scratching their heads as to why they should support Israel at all.
So to combat anti-Israel and anti-Semitic lies and negativity, Students Supporting Israel (SSI) at the University of Minnesota is bringing—for the first time ever, together with Minnesota Hillel—a whole month’s worth of events celebrating the Holy Land’s diversity, culture, and history. Seven events have already happened, including a fascinating talk last night with Israeli LGBTQIA rights activist Assi Azar, and eleven more are still to come. Israel as a nation-state has something for everyone to connect to, and Supporting Israel Month has been designed to bring a variety of opportunities that will help students, faculty, and anyone interested in Israel to learn about and celebrate the only true democracy in the region.
From celebrating the Passover exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land, to hosting Assi Azar, to our crucial campaign to ‘Get Out The Vote’ during Minnesota Student Association elections; SSI wants students of all backgrounds a diverse array of opportunities to engage with Israel. In addition, SSI is excited to host a diverse professor panel discussing a variety of topics related to Israel and the region, and an insightful presentation by Israeli soldiers sharing their personal experiences in the army safeguarding the Jewish homeland.
We will go on to amplify the pro-Israel voice on campus while celebrating Minnesota Hillel’s biggest Shabbat of the year on April 17th — which is set to recognize the Jewish community on campus and our friends in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. All-in-all, this month shows how Students Supporting Israel at the University of Minnesota helped propel our community into one of the most proactive campuses for Israel activism in America.
Not long ago, I had the opportunity to stand still for the annual blaring sirens of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial day), ominously bringing the hustle and bustle of the Tel Aviv streets to a grinding halt. This year, our community will rise from our solemn remembrance to a joyful celebration–showcasing the 67th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel and homeland for the Jewish diaspora. Nevertheless, there’s a point of relation and connectivity to Israel for all communities to experience and wholeheartedly share with us and amongst each other. Israel holds a unique place in the hearts of scores of students across the University of Minnesota. Yet, after Supporting Israel Month, we anticipate many more will get to know our national homeland and yearn to engage with the sole liberal democracy in the whirlwind of the Middle East- the State of Israel.
Sami Rahamim is a Minneapolis native and student at the University of Minnesota studying Public and Nonprofit Management. He is in his first year after making the best decision of his life by taking a gap year with the Aardvark Israel program. Since returning to Minnesota and starting college he has become involved with way too many Jewish organizations on campus, including: Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity, Chabad U of M, currently serving as Vice President of Students Supporting Israel, and will serve as Vice President of Israel and Jewish content at Minnesota Hillel during the upcoming school year.