Dear Rising Freshmen: What to Expect for Israel on Campus
Phillip Brodsky became Executive Director of The David Project in July of 2014 after serving four years as Campus Director. Phil joined The David Project in June 2010 after graduating from the Hornstein Heller Graduate Program at Brandeis University. As Campus Director, Phillip worked with the campus coordinators to reach out to student leaders to help them engage their peers with Israel in new and exciting ways. Now, Phil oversees our mission and strategy as well as our development and operations. Phil has always believed that each and every student has the potential to make a difference for Israel and the world. All the programs and trainings that he has designed seek to help students gain the leadership skills to be successful now and in the future. Before earning his MBA and Master’s in Jewish Professional Leadership at Brandeis, Phil was the director of Jewish programming for Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity. With AEPi, Phil taught student leaders how to organize successful philanthropic programs, bring Jewish enrichment programming into their chapters and talk about Israel within the fraternity and sorority community. His pro-Israel work while with AEPi was recognized by the Israel on Campus Coalition, AIPAC and the North American Interfraternity Conference
Congratulations on graduating! Enjoy this important milestone. As you look forward to next year, I wanted to take a minute to offer you my two cents on what to expect next year with Israel on campus.
1. Not everyone on campus is anti-Israel
Despite news reports about the growth of the anti-Israel movement on campus, it is important to remember that not everyone holds anti-Israel opinions. The truth is that most of the peers you will meet will not know very much about Israel at all, and honestly they probably simply won’t be interested enough to learn more on their own. As a potential Israel advocate, you should keep that idea in mind. Your opportunity when you get to campus is to show your new friends Israel through your eyes. Remember, if you don’t share your perspective then it’s likely they won’t learn more about Israel at all. Or they will only learn through comments about Israel from others.
2. There are more resources for people who love Israel than ever before
If you feel connected to Israel, then in terms of resources and support it has never been a better time for you to be in college. Once you arrive on campus there are Hillel, Chabad, AEPi, and other Jewish groups and spaces ready to welcome you. If you want to travel to the Jewish State you can go on Birthright. If you’ve already been, then you can find other ways such as service trips, advocacy trips, policy trips, and other tours. I know many students who have been to Israel several times while in college and barely had to pay the cost of one airplane ticket. The impact of all of these trips is extraordinary. Consider that because so many more young people have been to Israel, it is more likely than ever before that a college student today knows someone who has been to Israel him/herself. Also, when you are looking for the words to talk about and understand Israel there are many Israel advocacy organizations, including The David Project, that are here to help you.
3. You will be faced with tough questions from your friends, but not the ones you expect
As you bring Israel up in conversation, you will be asked questions, and some of them may be hard to answer. But, unless you are engaging an Israel detractor, the questions you will face will not be about complicated historical or political analysis. Instead the question that students are dealing with on campus is why does Israel exist and whether or not it’s a moral place. For these questions there is no better ambassador than you. All you need to do is talk about why you care about Israel and and think the country is important. Show them why Israel is meaningful to you so that they will begin to understand Israel on a values-based level. Tell them about your experiences with Israel and with Israelis. As they learn and have more questions they will feel comfortable coming to you for answers.