Josh Scharff is a campus coordinator at The David Project, where he works with schools in D.C. and Michigan. He is pictured far left with Daniel, an #IsraelUncovered participant.
The David Project contingent (Bella ben-Shach, Erika Wohl, Molly Radler, and myself) along with 16,000 other people descended on Washington, D.C. to exercise our freedom to assemble at the 2015 AIPAC Policy Conference. It was a truly humbling experience. Great law makers, ambassadors, academics, rabbis, pastors, lawyers, bankers, students, and people from all walks of life came together to stand in solidarity with Israel and in commitment to maintaining a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. I was moved by the diversity of the group, as people from all backgrounds and demographics were in the crowd. In a job where I am too often surrounded by negative aspects of the campus atmosphere (SJP die-ins and apartheid weeks, BDS resolutions, and Jewish and pro-Israel students feeling marginalized,) this conference for me was a breath of fresh air, a reminder that there is still broad support for Israel on both sides of the aisle. It reminded me of my own connection to Israel and why I believe that Israel is place that truly everyone can connect to. The conference, most importantly, reminded me what it means to speak as one, and how lucky we are to live in a society that not only grants me the right of free speech, it demands that I exercise that right to make the positive change that I want to see in the world.
Another lovely aspect of this conference was visiting with many of the wonderful students, Israel fellows, and professionals connected to The David Project. It was amazing to see everyone dressed to the nines and enjoying themselves, even though we were all thoroughly exhausted. It was so nice to hear students from schools other than my own ask about my fellow coordinators, “is Dylan here” or “where is Lexie?” Unfortunately, I had to disappoint them, but it showed me what a tremendous impact that we have made on campus and just how much our students and professionals enjoy working with us. Perhaps the best illustration of this came on Sunday evening, when somewhere between 70 and 100 people came to a small get together we planned for our students and Israel Uncovered Alumni. They trekked through the icy streets of D.C. just to come and mingle with us and students just like them from across the country who work with The David Project. Some students showed up who haven't (yet) ever worked with us, they just came to hear what all the fuss was about. I know that I along with Erika, Bella, and Molly were all extremely moved.
I feel very grateful to have experienced the AIPAC policy conference first hand, surrounded by friends of Israel and also friends of The David Project. I will carry these memories with me as inspiration for the rest of the semester.