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Sunshine State Sticks Together

Mar 14, 2012

By Rebecca Sterling

Since the start of 2012, Florida has demonstrated the tremendous support it has for Israel. Such support is crucial, especially in light of increased rocket attacks being launched from Gaza.This support is most clearly demonstrated by the students of Florida's universities, who have taken the initiative to organize and host events such as "Florida Loves Israel" (FLI) and Israel Peace Week"(IPW).

After gathering in Tallahassee for the FLI conference and lobbying in the state capitol, students returned to their campus with a new sense of unity throughout the state. The "Florida loves Israel" conference, chaired by Hasbara Fellow and Noles for Israel president Danny Ackerman provided students with training which they quickly put to good use. With their new skills, 5 out of 6 major Florida universities hosted Israel Peace Week, a nationwide grassroots campaign to educate about Israel's efforts for peace.

These schools have made it possible for a diverse range of students to learn about Israel and discover Israel beyond the conflict. Students at USF and UCF have emerged with a renewed voice for Israel. By participating in IPW, they have been able to stand on their campus with a united message.These campuses have started a new tradition by bringing Israel activism to the core of Florida. FAU,FIU, and FSU also brought the strong message of Israel Peace Week to their campuses with help from Hasbara Fellows Tim Tallent, Fay Goldstein, Jonathan Biro, and Rachel Tenenbaum. The campuses learned about Israel though a variety of IPW events such as Israel focused art, the screening the “Israel Inside” documentary, and meeting Israeli students who represent the  “Faces of Israel”. Their efforts were widely supported by the student population at their campuses, were recognized in local media, and even congratulated by Consul General Chaim Shacham in a special letter.

The outpouring of activism that these students have shown should be an inspiration for grassroots Israel efforts throughout the world.  In these times, it is very important that students continue to be enthusiastic and pro-active. Students must remember that the work they do makes a big difference. Whether through social media or campus media, pro-Israel students in Florida and throughout the United States can make an even bigger impact by doing their part to explain Israel’s efforts for peace and the obstacles to peace. Florida’s campuses have been speaking with one voice and fostering greater understanding and we will be keeping an eye on the future work of these students.

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