Fifteen students from US colleges visited the country this month as part of an
Anti-Defamation League-sponsored delegation dedicated to fostering understanding
on American campuses of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Leaders Mission to Israel, now in its 21st year, brings students with campus
leadership experience to the Jewish state for an eye-opening look at the forces
behind the conflict.
The goal of the 10-day trip, which ended last week,
is to provide students with a wide array of political viewpoints that they can
take with them when they return to school, explained Phyllis Gerably, director
of ADL’s Israel office.
The delegation’s jam-packed itinerary included
sampling the wares at Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market, meeting with a group of
Palestinian students, touring the new I24 News studio in Jaffa and meeting MK
Boaz Toporovsky of Yesh Atid.
“This is my sixth day here and I never want
to leave,” Shawn Matson, who was set to begin his senior at the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said during one of the group’s more laid-back stops at Tel
Aviv’s Jerusalem Beach.
Matson, a student of political science and Jewish
studies, harbors a strong affinity with Jewish culture and religion, although he
is not Jewish. As a young boy, Matson was drawn to questions surrounding the
His dedication to combating bigotry and anti-Semitism made
this ADL trip particularly appealing for him.
“I was able to see so many
different areas of Israel. I think this is a great way to get a feel for the
multicultural dimension of the country,” said Madison Ashley, ahead of her
sophomore year as a student in culture and politics department at Georgetown
University in Washington.
A strong interest in cross-cultural awareness
and social justice is behind University of Pennsylvania student Joyce Kim’s
participation in the Campus Leaders Mission.
Coming from a Texan town
where there have been few if any Jews, Kim felt overwhelmed when she came to her
school’s campus and was bombarded with the views of anti- and pro-Israel
“I feel like I’m seeing both narratives unfold here and
I think I’m still processing it all,” Kim said on the eve of returning to
The Campus Leaders Mission was funded by the Charles and
Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation and the Samuel and Mildred Levine Institute.
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