SSI Tailgate: Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace, and Pro-Fun!

By Sami Rahamim
When it comes to Israel, the battle of owning our narrative on college campuses is multi-faceted.
We need academic and regional experts to break down the nitty gritty and teach the history of the Middle East. We need soldiers from the IDF to come share stories from their experiences in the army, and show college students (who are often the exact same age as our uniformed heroes) that they are just like them in many ways. We need to have conversations with students on the ground and build strong connections with other cultural and political groups on campus who share our values of freedom, human rights and democracy as well as our vision for peace.
"football game-day - the only time students feel good about waking up at 8:00 on Saturday morning"
Sometimes, however, we just need to have fun.
An essential component of the college experience is football game-day -the only time students feel good about waking up at 8:00 on Saturday morning (or even earlier for the true die-hards). Personally, I adore game-day. Waking up to our fight song (The Minnesota Rouser) blasting through the halls of my fraternity is the only time I’ll accept such an interruption of my weekend-beauty-sleep.
For pro-Israel students like myself and other Students Supporting Israel (SSI) leaders around the nation, we understand the importance of connecting with students on a personal, grassroots level. We understand that Israel is more than just the conflict; that she is a diverse country with an incredible culture and people, with something that just about any college student can connect to. We also understand the value of celebrating our love and pride for Israel in a way that is easy for the average student to engage with.
"layering our pride of blue and white with maroon and gold effectively promoted pro-Israel, pro-peace, and pro-fun"
This is why we decided to hold the first ever SSI tailgate before the Minnesota Golden Gophers took on Kent State less than two weeks ago. Hosted on the front lawn of my fraternity: we hung U.S. and Israeli flags, played classic lawn games like water pong and bag toss (we call it Cornhole in Minnesota) while listening to Israel’s most popular current music. And of course, offered free food to all -a food truck making gourmet Chicago style hot dogs. We were happy to explain to passing by students what we were celebrating and what our group is all about.
By layering our pride of blue and white with maroon and gold, we effectively promoted our brand as students who are pro-Israel, pro-peace, and pro-fun.
Of course this can’t be our only strategy to turning the tide on campuses to swell with grassroots support for Israel, and we still need to be well-educated and ready to answer difficult questions. Yet we should never lose sight of the fact that at the end of the day, we are students and sometimes, we just need to have fun.
Sami Rahamim is the President of Students Supporting Israel at the University of Minnesota, and a Sophomore studying Public and Nonprofit Management.