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August 29, 2013 - Image 84

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-08-29

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

jewish@edu

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U-M student refocuses her passion for Israel through
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Bella Wishnivetski } jewish@edu writer

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A

s a student activist at the

University of Michigan, it's easy
to get lost in the crowd. There
is rarely an Ann Arbor day where students
don't rally together to advocate for various
causes. After all, campuses are the most
effective platform to mold the opinions of
young adults.
Then there's the separate challenge of the
mention of Israel — things can get trickier
when discussing Israel.
To learn to distinguish my passion
for Israel within campus, I signed up for
the David Project's Relationship Building
Conference in June — with the support of
the U-M Hillel. I entered this four-day event in
Washington, D.C., with a confused outlook.
On one hand, I believed "hard-core" Israel
advocacy was the way to go to compete
with the campus' top activists: advertise
bigger and advocate better. Yet, I was real-
izing this method of event-planning outreach
attracted a small group of students, mainly
those who already supported Israel with or
without my influence.
I planned to spend my four days in
Washington learning to live the David
Project's mindset of strategic and effective
Israel advocacy based on relationship build-
ing. In other words, people open their hearts
to a cause when they can reference a person-
al connection rather than a demonstration.
I hoped this mindset would somehow
teach me to spread pro-Israel sentiment
beyond the University of Michigan's vast
Jewish community, which is filled with Hillel
regulars and Birthright alumni.
After speaking with the David Project staff
and reading several case studies, it began to
sink in that my Israel advocacy didn't have to

be bigger and better — it had to be smarter.
Many college campuses are overflowing
with young adults who are apathetic to the
conflict in the Middle East. These students
have little to no opinion when it comes to
Israeli current events, and this is largely due
to a lack of education on the topic. With
the help of the David Project, I began to see
each of these students as an opportunity to
help them form their own opinions. By valu-
ing the importance of individual connection
and patience, I can become a true Israel
advocate by becoming a tangible reference
to Israel for my peers.
As I reflected upon these lessons, I am
reminded of an ancient Greek fable: The
Wind and the Sun were disputing which
was the stronger when suddenly they saw
a traveler coming down the road. The Sun
said: "Whichever of us can cause that trav-
eler to take off his coat shall be regarded as
the stronger." The Wind began to blow as
hard as it could upon the traveler, but the
harder he blew, the more closely the traveler
wrapped his coat around himself. Once the
Wind had given up, the Sun came out and
shone upon the traveler, who soon found it
too hot to walk with his coat on.
Just as in the fable of the Wind and the
Sun, the David Project advocates that kind-
ness, gentleness and persuasion win where
force fails. I look forward to returning to
campus and continuing my Israel advocacy,
but with a refreshed twist. @

Bella Wishnivetski of Farmington Hills is a

sophomore at the University of Michigan

in Ann Arbor and publicity chair for the

American Movement for Israel (AMI), a Hillel-

sponsored student-led organization at U-M.

Farmington Hills, Michigan
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84

'gust 29 • 2013

4.

-

gl.
4
---7---w-162'

Bella Wishnivetski engages with Jason Horowitz, a
David Project campus coordinator, at the conference in
Washington, D.C.

West Bloomfield

1823800

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