New York, NY, June 24, 2010 … A group of students representing U.S. colleges and universities experienced Israel firsthand during an eight-day trip designed to give campus leaders a fuller picture of the land and its people.
The students, selected by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to participate in its annual ADL Campus Leaders Mission to Israel, traveled in Israel on June 7-17, where they met with representatives of the culturally, politically and religiously diverse population and engaged with decision-makers and community leaders. The students learned about strategic and social challenges facing Israel and toured the historically and geographically significant land.
The 14 students selected for the mission hold significant leadership positions on their campuses in areas such as student government, journalism, and advocacy.
"Informed discussion about Israel on campus begins with an understanding of the issues, the history, and the geography of the land," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "And it begins with a respect and appreciation for the differing narratives of Israelis and Palestinians, Christians, Muslims and Jews. That was the starting point for this mission, which attempts to open the door to critical thinking and informed discussion on campus. We hope that the students will bring home with them a new perspective and deeper understanding of the issues surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
Among the students' comments on their experiences:
· "Thanks to the mission trip to Israel I have been enlightened on so many levels; culturally, religiously, and historically."
· "It helped me create a very colorful portrait of Israel, compared to the monotone picture I had before."
· "The trip provided me with an entry point into contemporary discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
· "This mission provided me with a deeper understanding of the many issues regarding the conflict."
The mission aims to ensure that campus leaders understand the nature and complexity of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The students had an opportunity to visit key sites related to Israel's history and to hear firsthand from a wide variety of experts on the current situation and prospects for peace in the region. They met with Israeli and Palestinian journalists, students, military and government officials and average citizens.
This year's student leaders represented 13 schools: Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME; Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT; Hofstra University, Long Island, NY; Princeton University, Princeton, NJ; Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX; St. Edward's University, Austin, TX; State University of New York at Albany; Trinity College, Hartford, CT; University of Florida, Gainesville, FL; University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM; University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA; Winona State University, Winona, MN; and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.
The mission is made possible by the generosity of the Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation and is coordinated through ADL's office in Israel.