ONE ACT OF
OF ONE MAN
for college students by college students
Art And Advocacy
U-M Hillel student group finds art attracts
support for Israel.
Alyssa Adler } jewish@edu writer
American Movement for Israel board members: Rachel
Klein, Huntington Woods; Alyssa Adler, West Bloomfield,
board chair; Melissa Rosenbaum, Rye Brook, N.Y.; Eden
Adler, Farmington Hills; Isabell Friedman, Maplewood, N.J.;
and Jeremy Borison, Beachwood, Ohio.
t was the clearest day Ann Arbor had
seen in a while. The temperature was
mild, there was no breeze and the sky
was a lovely shade of blue. The perfect day
for Israel advocacy.
As students frequented the Diag, the
University of Michigan's central quad, many
slowed their pace as they spotted a crowd
gathering. I watched as the crowds swelled
around the three graffiti artists from New
York City who each spent the entire day
painting a 4- by 6-foot mural with the agility
of true artists. Beside the artists, what once
was a 4- by 8-foot piece of plywood now
was covered in a colorful array of messages,
slogans, names and symbols, many about
Israel, all created by students, faculty and
One girl came up to me, asking what she
THE STORY OF
"THE BRITISH SCHINDLER"
-SIR NICHOLAS WINTON
artists became so inspired by a country
they previously knew nothing about. The
girl, who was neither Jewish nor had an
opinion about the conflict, expressed her
passion for graffiti art, gave me her card
(she was an art student) and asked if
she could be a part of our mailing list. It
was at that point I knew our event was
was watching. I explained to her that we
were the American Movement for Israel,
campus's largest pro-Israel group, and the
group of artists we had brought in was pro-
moting peace and creative expression based
on their experiences in Israel.
As she inquired more, I told her the
story of Artists4lsrael, an organization that
supports Israel through the unique lens of
art expression. These professional artists,
through Artists4lsrael, had traveled to Israel
and had been immersed in the culture, emo-
tion and beauty that is the Jewish State.
While in Israel, these artists spent countless
hours beautifying the desolate bomb shelters
of southern Israel, shelters for women in
need and even the Israeli security fence.
Their stories were both entertaining and
awe-inspiring, and what was even more
powerful was the fact that these non-Jewish
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Being on such a large campus, it is only
natural that students are blasted with
a plethora of opinions and conflicts.
"Support this" or "vote against that"
are common phrases heard around the
University of Michigan on a daily basis. As
a result, the challenge becomes this: How
do I make my issue stand out amongst all
of the noise?
As we all know, even the idea of Israel
can be viewed by some as controver-
sial, so the difficulty is getting students
interested in Israel without scaring them
off. This challenge is one that the entire
pro-Israel community faces, and one that
my American Movement for Israel board
struggled with as we sat down to decide
our upcoming year's programming.
The idea of spray painting murals to
support peace was one that drew our
attention. Graffiti art is both underap-
preciated and awe-worthy at the same
time. We felt that by bringing in a unique
expression of art — something innately
human — and tying it to Israel, we
would succeed in drawing in the hun-
dreds of students we fail to reach out to
every day because they feel our organiza-
tion isn't relevant to them or they can't
relate to our organization's mission.
So as I watched Mike, one of our art-
ists, teach a random passerby how to
spray paint at this event late last year,
I knew we had reached out to a demo-
graphic that many Israel groups fail to
even consider — the apathetic student.
I was grabbing a can of paint for
a student when something Mike said
caught my ear. The girl he was working
with was having trouble spray painting
her name without the paint dripping
from her piece of art.
"You've gotta be confident," he said
as he drew a perfect, drip-free heart, "No
hesitations. You can't back down, you've
just gotta say, 'I'm doing this, I'm all in or
Later that day, when I debriefed with
the board, I told them that same thing,
but this time, it was in the context of
being an Israel advocate. "No hesitations.
I'm doing this — all in, or nothing." @
Alyssa Adler of West Bloomfield is a
junior at the University of Michigan in
April 11 • 2013
A U M student takes a turn spray painting.