Students Supporting Israel campaign to highlight the historical right of the Jewish people to live in their homeland focusing on the importance of The Law of Return and stories of immigrant communities to Israel from around the world.

By Ilan Sinelnikov


Common accusations we hear on campuses these days include statements such as “Israelis are occupiers from Europe...”; “Jews are white colonialists ...” ; “Israel is a racist state...” and the list goes on. In addition, while it should be clear that sovereign countries have the right to define their own immigration laws, Israel is constantly being criticized for the right of return it provides for Jewish people to the Jewish homeland.

Moreover, questions are raised as to why those who considered Palestinian refugees are not also given the right of return to Israel. All these accusations and critiques are being voiced while completely ignoring the unprecedented miracle of immigration absorption on a mass scale that happened in Israel, where people from many different backgrounds were successfully able to come together as one nation and create a new identity, the “Israeli”.

The new Students Supporting Israel campaign was created to shed the light on these topics above. The program brings together a unique panel of 4 speakers, Jewish Israelis from diverse backgrounds: Ethiopian, Russian, Mexican and North African, to include an overview of the Jewish law of return, its historical significance, how it fulfills the idea of Zionism and a Jewish homeland, and why having a country that defines itself as Jewish is not a topic for debate but an existing fact that questioning it means applying a double standards towards Israel.

The goals of the campaign are to show how diverse the Israeli, and especially the Jewish community is, to show how phenomenal it is that a new country was able to absorb such a large amount of immigrants, and contrast the issues of Palestinian refugees as opposed to Jewish immigration returning to Israel.

Each speaker will present the story of their community immigration to Israel and of a few other communities which are not represented on the panel. The presentation will speak for example of the over 1 million immigrants who came from former USSR republics, the story of the Operation Solomon to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel, and many more fascinating and historically significant moments. Following the community story, personal accounts of assimilation into the Israeli society and the development of the Israeli identity will be shared.



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“We at SSI try to show students the multicultural nature of the state of Israel. Our unique delegation will bring to campus the true colors of Israeli society that is one of the only societies in the world where, where ‘immigrants’ are actually coming back home and not leaving one” said Naor Bitton who is part of SSI's founding team and will lead the delegation. Naor’s family migrated from North Africa, Morocco and Algeria, to Israel, and he will be sharing his family and community story.

“I really look forward to joining SSI's delegation this spring because it is important to show the diversity inside the Israeli Jewish population to American students” said Gidy Basin, who was born in Moscow and moved to Israel in 1990 as a child. After graduating from IDF's elite program "Talpiot" and serving at the Israeli Air Force, Gidy is currently working in the Israeli start up scene and will represent the Jewish immigration from former USSR republics. He added “Like all countries dealing with immigration, the process was and still is not always easy, especially in a relatively young country like Israel. Having said that, I think most of us will agree that overall, "the system works", and Israel keeps attracting Jews from around the world who choose to leave their familiar lives and make Aliyah. On a personal note, my wife made Aliyah 6 years ago from Russia and all her family moved to Israel during the last year, so I am re-experiencing the immigration process and albeit the natural difficulties with the language and the cultural differences, it is a positive move."

The two other speakers of the program are Floretta Mayerson, who was born in Mexico City and moved to Israel after high school and is currently a third year political communication student and an
intern in ACT.IL, an online community fighting against the demonization of Israel, and Sivan Sisay whose family migrated from Ethiopia, served in the army as an officer in the International military cooperation division and is now a performer singer and is involved with projects supporting the elders in the Ethiopian community. “It is so important for me to be a part of this campaign and to be able to share the message of the diverse people of Israel” said Sivan. Floretta added: “This campaign is the best way to give personal connotations to Israel, make people remember faces, flavors, feelings. To have a real impact in American campuses by transmitting from our hearts. We all carry responsibility towards this land; the same way we defend our little siblings, we must stand up for Israel. People must see the real faces and open up to the reality, not the mediated one, but the one happening in our everyday lives.”

The program is to take place between April 2 to April 13 hosted by SSI chapters in locations across the United States. For more details or to inquire about attending or hosting the program, please contact SSI National at
[email protected]


Ilan Sinelnikov is the Founder and President of the national Students Supporting Israel movement.


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