CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, brought nearly 40 students from across the United States and Canada to participate in its second annual Student Leadership and Advocacy Training Conference.
The conference took place August 19 – 21 at Boston University Hillel. The goal of the conference was to instill courage and empower the students to be strong, pro-Israel activists. It focused on combating anti-Israel campaigns and the importance of spreading accurate news coverage and commentary about Israel and the Middle East on campus.
The event included a series of prominent experts such as CAMERA’s Christian Media Analyst Dexter Van Zile and Dr. Richard Cravatts, a professor at Simmons College and the author of the book Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel and Jews. Other speakers included Sharon Singer, director of public affairs and social media at the Consulate General of Israel in Philadelphia; she spoke about how to restore factual, positive portrayals of Israel in university settings.
Students discussed the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel, took part in writing and role-playing workshops, and discussed event-planning strategies in depth. Students left the conference feeling confident and prepared to educate their peers on the past and present issues within the Middle East.
Yoni Kaplan, president of the CCAP (CAMERA Campus Activist Project) supported pro-Israel organization at Tulane University said, “What makes the CAMERA student leadership conference so much more impactful than reading any of the individual lecturer›s books . . . is that it brings together the most passionate, most talented, and most dedicated proponents from around the continent and forges them into a network. No longer do any of us feel alone in the fight. We have met our allies in Boston, we know that CAMERA has our backs, we have met the non-Jews who believe in us and are willing to fight by our side.”
Students from dozens of universities including Concordia, Dartmouth, MIT, and University of California at Santa Cruz flew in to attend the conference. The wide range of attendees included non-Jewish students such as Rita Usher from the historical black Alabama State University. She spoke of the encouragement she gained from the conference after being told by the school paper that “this isn›t your fight” when writing in support of Israel.
Other students included Abir Gitlin, an Israeli entering his freshman year at University of Miami following the completion of three years in the Israel Defense Forces. Andrea Sarkic of Carleton University in Ottawa, president of her CCAP pro-Israel group, appreciated the support and spoke of the suspicion she received by some on campus because she is pro-Israel but not Jewish. Adam Sapers applied for the CAMERA Fellowship program after visiting Israel this past June for the first time on Birthright, and was excited to gain the tools necessary to help support the Jewish state at Northeastern University.
CAMERA, now in its 30th anniversary year, is the premier Israel and Middle East news media monitor. The non-partisan organization has 65,000 members in more than 12 countries, with Web sites in English, Hebrew and Spanish. It holds news and other communications media to traditional journalism standards including accuracy, objectivity and comprehensiveness.