Mission and History
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In January 2010, a group of pro-Israel student leaders trained by Hasbara Fellowships developed a powerful and innovative campaign to educate their peers on campus about Israel’s efforts for peace.
Called “Israel Peace Week,” the initiative was designed to counter the growth of “Israel Apartheid Week” across US campuses. While IAW organizers were preparing to demonize Israel, pro-Israel students launched an earlier, more positive campaign with a simple message: Israel wants peace and has demonstrated its willingness to make painful sacrifices for peace. The initiative also explored options for peace, existential threats to the Jewish state, and the values and accomplishments of a thriving Israeli democracy in an otherwise despotic region.
Within just a few weeks, pro-Israel students at 30 universities had volunteered to organize “Israel Peace Week” on their campuses in spring of 2010, lining up events, speakers, materials, funding and community support. The initiative grew to include 50 universities in 2011.
The goal of “Israel Peace Week” is to reach a wide campus audience with a positive, yet meaningful message about Israel. This raises the perception of Israel on campus, and also offsets the negative effects of “Israel Apartheid Week.”
The campaign has been largely successful, both among pro-Israel students and the wider campus community. Many pro-Israel students seek a direct method for countering the outrageous claims and displays of “Israel Apartheid Week.” The initiative offers significant opportunities for engaging their peers, who may not be interested in hearing about conflicts, but may be more receptive to hearing about solutions for peace. Pro-Israel students distribute information and engage in conversation with a diverse crowd in the central areas of campus. They also hold events about human rights and democracy in Israel, which provide a forum for building coalitions and relationships with other campus organizations who promote similar values. Social events and giveaways, as well as the enthusiastic and clever use of social media, create a dynamic ‘buzz’ on campus. The idea of having an entire week of events is a great public relations strategy, so it is relatively easy to get media coverage. On a number of campuses, “Israel Peace week” has become the largest and most successful annual pro-Israel initiative.
Israel Peace Week Founders
Arielle Adler, Boston University
Jonathan Dress, University of Cincinnati
Brooke Katz, Johns Hopkins University
Anna Richlin, University of Rochester
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