On February 8, from 10:30am-3:00pm, there will be a one-day Israel advocacy conference at Mt. Zion Temple titled, From Confrontation to Conversation.
As this event grows closer, the excitement is increasing at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. The conference is open to the entirety of the Jewish community, and unlike many larger community events, there is a concerted effort to attract college students. Many of the co-sponsors are on-campus organizations such as Minnesota Hillel, Students Supporting Israel, Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity (AEPi) and J-Street U Macalester. Furthermore, not only are the students involved in these popular groups getting motivated, but many average Jewish students are too.
There is a general sense on campus that this is a great time to host this event, especially with what just happened at the University of California-Davis. On January 31, vandals defaced the AEPi house with swastikas. Bright red swastikas. Painted on the building. The students have led a charge to fight this act by gaining over 11,500 signatures for a petition to show support for the Jewish community and to force the university to immediately condemn this act of anti-Semitism. This petition is awesome, but it is reactionary.
Speaking as a student at the U of M I don’t want to have to react to an anti-Semitic act, I want to prevent it. I, along with many other students, feel that this pro-Israel conference is a great way to learn how to combat anti-Israel, and ultimately anti-Semitic, attitudes and actions. We feel that From Confrontation to Conversation will be the resource we need to prevent happenings like UC-Davis on our campus.
The conference will help teach us how to be an advocate for Israel using the most persuasive and non-confrontational techniques. We will learn how to support Israel in a manner that does not cause conflict in a conversation, and learn facts and strategies to counter arguments against Israel.
This event is an opportunity to show that we, the Jews in the Twin Cities, are actively supporting Israel. We all talk about the benefits and the need to support her, but this event allows us to actually do something – we have the opportunity to “walk the walk.” That is why that I feel students, parents, religious leaders, and general community members have an obligation to go to this event. From Confrontation to Conversation is a training-like conference and we all could use more knowledge of the correct methods when it comes to supporting Israel.
I have really been inspired by the attitude, excitement and motivation that my fellow students have toward From Confrontation to Conversation. Don’t think that only U of M students are pumped, I know of huge support by Macalester, Augsburg and many other colleges. The simplest thing I can ask is for you to take a Sunday and learn strategies to combat anti-Israel actions. I am sure that once you meet the students at From Confrontation to Conversation, you will catch the same drive, motivation and pride to be pro-Israel that we students already have. Plus, it’s free to attend!
For those on campus, there will be a bus leaving from Minnesota Hillel at the University of Minnesota at 10:00am providing free transportation. If you would like to register for the event or just learn more about it, visit the event page on TC Jewfolk’s calendar.