StandWithUs group 311.
(photo credit: Michael Dickson)
StandWithUs International, a campus Israel-advocacy group that operates in
Israel and around the world, graduated its fourth class of studentfellows on
Wednesday evening with a ceremony at the Israel Museum’s Ticho House in
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Mayor Nir Barkat addressed the nearly 150 fellowship
graduates, who hail from various locations across the country and who aspire to
be ambassadors for the State of Israel in diplomacy and additional leading
fields in the coming years.
“Advocacy, which many of you will soon be
engaged in, is critical for the success of our country,” Barkat said. “And
StandWithUs has done a remarkable job in training you for that task. That’s why
it was so important for me to come here tonight.”
The mayor also
discussed the various challenges facing Israel advocates in the world today, and
reflected on his own experiences advocating for the city of Jerusalem while on
visits to the United States over recent months.
“Advocacy has to be
derived from a vision,” Barkat said.
“It has to be something that comes
from you heart and is logical, but you also have to be able to speak – not our
language, not translated Hebrew – but American English or any language you need
to speak, depending on where you choose to work in Europe.
“We have to do
a better job in advocacy,” he added. “We have to better understand whom we’re
advocating to, better understand the things we’re doing here on the ground, and
know how to integrate between both of them.”
The StandWithUs fellowship
operates on six campus centers across Israel, making it the only nationwide
fellowship of its kind.
“They are the face of Israel, eloquent,
knowledgeable and charismatic,” said Michael Dickson, StandWithUs Israel’s
director of the Israeli Fellows.
“They have the capacity to break one
hundred stereotypes that people in the wider world may have about
Dickson added that SWU seeks to educate the next generation of
Israelis to be globally minded, articulate advocates for Israel.
genuinely believe that a prime minister of Israel is in this room tonight,” said
Shay Assor, the StandWithUs Fellowship Director.
Before they begin
campaigning for top spots in the Knesset, many of the fellows are about to begin
internships abroad in places such as embassies, think-tanks, and advocacy
organizations, representing Israel and bridging gaps between Israel and other
As part of their training, the fellows must come up with project
ideas to carry out on their campuses. These projects either have to serve the
betterment of the State of Israel, or promote a positive image of Israel abroad.
This year, over 150 proposals had to be narrowed down to six, which then had to
The fellows also spend hours a month meeting with each
other, hearing speakers, and showing delegations of all types around
Next school year a new group of 150 fellows will be chosen to
represent SWU on Israeli campuses.
Assor also said that SWU is unique in
the sense that the staff is highly professional, but young and can
relate to the
The organization is able to “remain classy and prestigious while
still maintaining a youthful and friendly atmosphere,” he said.
something about StandWithUs that is unique,” Dickson said. “Israelis on
want to be involved. They trust [the organization] to teach them about
They are great students, but at the end of the day [SWU] is so important
them, it’s their life.”