Students at UCF celebrate the first annual Declare Your Freedom Israel Festival. Celebrating Democracy, Zionism, and the beauty of the homeland for the Jewish people!
I have noticed my fellow students across the nation deal with the tenets of the anti-Israel community rather frequently over the last year. These include dealings with the BDS movement and ASA boycott, and various encounters with groups in support of them. It is with great pride that I applaud the individuals who have stood firm against the adversity they face in such hostile environments. I must admit, I feel lucky to have not fallen under such circumstances so regularly as my fellow students have. Quite frankly, there are no organized anti-Israel groups at the University of Central Florida where I attend. That does not mean that the pro-Israel community at UCF does not encounter individuals harboring deep-rooted hate for Israel, whom have no issue stating their displeasure (to put it lightly) with the state of Israel. These occurrences, in my opinion, are simply foreshadowing the inevitable birth of anti-Israel groups on this campus. It is precisely this reason why we, as students, have an obligation to stand united for Israel in the face of either imminent or distant threats on campus. It is important to be proactive, rather than reactive to the negativity lobbed towards Israel daily. Instead of sitting idly by and THEN reacting, as those abhorrent anti-Israel groups promulgate their hate-filled rants of justice, oppression, freedom, and human rights. We must come together, we must act first, and we must refuse to let them dictate the dialogue.
Recently at the University of Central Florida our pro-Israel group Knights for Israel showcased the Declare Your Freedom Israel Festival. The purpose of it being a demonstration of solidarity between the US and Israel, all the while highlighting the strong bond these two nations share. It is quite an interesting name for a festival. What exactly are we declaring? Why are we declaring anything for that matter? Ask, and you shall receive. It is a declaration that we are proud and outspoken Zionists. It is a declaration of unwavering support for Israel. It is a declaration of freedom, hope, and self-determination of a people. Declaring the freedom for the continuation of the Zionist dream, and the inalienable right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. It is a message of strength, through inspiration and collective determination. We refuse to wait until the storm of anti-Israel groups hits our campus, and we pledge to not just be reactive. This is not a call to end responsiveness to those bashing Israel; contrarily it is promoting an addition to our duties as staunch supporters of her. It is a call for students across the nation, whether faced with “free Palestine” slogans every day, the occasional argument against Israel, or rarely any verbal conflict at all, to act! Significant strides in support for Israel have been attributed to those acting on her behalf. Thus, it is time to follow suit and lead the charge at your school. Inspire your fellow students, enlighten their minds so that they may pursue the knowledge so many lack. Bring truth and pride when speaking for Israel; and inspire your campus to declare their freedom as well!