How Values Can Elevate The Campus Dialogue

By Juan Gilces, Campus Coordinator

As a new academic year unfolds, hundreds of college students will gather, plan, and host programs and events to show their love and passion for Israel. Many will table in their student union with the ultimate Israeli swag and bamba, bring Assi Azar to campus, and serve shakshuka to hungry students passing by.

However, many do not notice that hundreds of other groups are doing almost the same thing to show solidarity and passion for what they support.

We must recognize that other individuals and groups feel the same way towards their interests as we feel towards Israel, and their values are reflected upon what they advocate for. What matters to them fuels their passion to share their interests with the rest of the world!

Identifying what matters to us and to others is the key. Talking about our values is important in starting a successful conversation on campus.

How do we know this?

  1. Values are shared: Our personal values are guiding principles that shape who we are as an individual and as a society. Take the value of "family," for example, which is almost universal. Family plays a huge role in every culture; nearly all life events take place around the value of family.
  2. Values connect us: Our personal values help us explain the reason to be an advocate. They help us to understand which causes are important to us. To many of us that cause is Israel. Our values have led us to advocate around our connection to Israel. The same can be said about the different causes that other people are connected to.
  3. Values tell a better story: Our personal values resonate with others. When sharing your personal narrative, talk about your experiences and the values that are important to you and that will connect you to the values of others. Our narratives may seem different, but our values are the same.

At The David Project Relationship Building Institute I had the opportunity to share my own personal narrative around Israel with my students. While I shared my experience, I also spoke about resilience and how this value shaped my connection to Israel. Four years ago I went to Israel to do a volunteer program in an infantry unit of the Israeli Defense Force. I met and worked with incredible people and saw their resilience amidst several challenges. I know that the resilience of Israel and Israelis is a value to which everyone can connect, and I have seen how this part of my personal narrative has resonated with different people with whom I have shared it.

I ask every student advocate to begin the campus dialogue on Israel, not only with facts, but also with meaningful conversations. Share the personal values that shape your Israel narrative!