Coming at an important moment in history, college journalists from across the United States came to Israel to see life here for themselves.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) brought 10 campus editors to Poland and then to Israel to experience first-hand what life is like here.
The ADL has run this 10-day trip for college editors for the past 14 years. It originated as a way to combat Holocaust denial on campuses, and now works as a way to fight against anti-Zionist and anti-Israel rhetoric.
"This gives college editors an opportunity to see first-hand what life is like in the Middle East and to write about it from a first-hand perspective," said Gary Levin, director of Campus and Confronting Anti-Semitism.
The process begins in March and April when the ADL sends out invitations to campuses all over the US. After receiving applications, the ADL chooses the participants to form a diverse group.
This year's group spent the first four days of their journey in Poland traveling around Warsaw and Krakow and seeing Auschwitz.
"I'm trying to wrap my mind around it," said Marshall Roy, the opinion page editor for The Tartan at Carnegie-Melon University. "Seeing the 20th century history in Poland and seeing the 20-century history here has been very cool. You almost feel lost - it wasn't experiencing it by itself."
The group arrived in Israel early Monday morning and will stay until Saturday. Their itinerary consists of sightseeing in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv while attending briefings with various members of the government, the military and the media.
Originally the group had planned to travel to the Galilee, something each trip has done over the past 14 years, but the war with Hizbullah forced a change of plans.
The students' safety is the number one priority of the ADL, said Levin.
The students come from all over the United States, from Orlando and Washington, DC to Oregon and North Dakota. Coming from the States to Israel was an eye-opening experience for the secular students.
"I don't have a religious fervor so seeing people put their religion above everything else is very alien to me," said Danyelle White, the editor-in-chief for the University of Utah's Daily Utah Chronicle.
Both White and Roy were told not to come to Israel because of the danger, but neither was nervous about the trip. Both said they had kept abreast of the situation in Israel and trusted the ADL.
White said coming to Israel changed some of her preconceived notions of what life here was like.
"I was under the impression that Israel was always in conflict and people were fighting here," she said. "Honestly, I haven't [ever] seen people get along so well. People interact with each other here in a respectful way, the interaction is very brotherly and fraternal."
Both students said what they will take back to their communities and to their college papers is the relationships people here have with their history and with their country. During a discussion with students from universities in Israel, Roy made an observation.
"They feel connected to the land because they have served it," he said. "To see someone our age know exactly why she loves her country was a different experience. It's been an intellectual adventure."
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