Campus activist dreamin’

Let’s rewind about two years to a day around this time of the year; that day happened to be the very first of my college career. College was supposed to be an experience that I’ll never forget, an experience that every kid dreams about since the day they’re old enough to know what college is. My “college dream” consisted of many friends, parties, memories, and good grades – typical college scenes that went on in the movies.

If you would have asked me when I was younger, I would’ve never thought that my college experience would involve defending Israel’s right to exist and standing up to bigots on almost a daily basis. However, if you speak to me now, after two full years on a college campus, I can tell you that a major chunk of my time has been dedicated to just that; Israel advocacy.

My first personal run-in with college anti-Israel activity was a situation I had before I even physically stepped foot on my college campus. While I was researching clubs to join in my school, one of the clubs I considered joining was the “Middle-Eastern Club,” however the map that this club used had Israel wiped off and replaced. That issue was eventually solved and so I went on my way and was looking forward to putting all that behind me and pursuing my college dream – or so I thought. A few weeks later I ran into another anti-Israel event, and from that point on this became a monthly, if not weekly, occurrence.

I finally had it and reached out to the Hillel on campus and we began doing our best to combat the vile anti-Israel sentiment that has been spread on our campus for way too long. I am proud to say that we have fought back to the best of our abilities, and I have the pleasure of being the President of the incredible Hillel this year, while we continue our fight.

Why do I tell you this? Well, I tell you this because I wish it would be different. I dream of a time where all students can enjoy their college years without being involved in a conflict that picks at the nerves of many and divides the best of friends. People always ask me if I enjoy advocating. Well, the answer is that I honestly do not, but I do it because I know that it must be done. There are groups on college campuses today that have one goal in mind; they seek to divide the campus and turn people against each other, “peace” is never their end-goal.

I am here to tell you that it is up to people like me and you, the people who want peace, and want a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike, to get involved on college campus. Yes, it’s time-consuming. Yes, it involves a lot of stress. But, we must fight back. We mustn’t let these individuals succeed at tearing our campus apart. Boycotts, die-ins, verbal harassment; those types of events won’t help peace, or do anything to bring both sides together. We must take it upon ourselves to run proactive events, events with one goal in mind – coexistence.

We must reach out, encourage dialogue, and have the students hand in hand, calling for peace and rejecting the mentalities of these hate-mongers. If we each take a little upon ourselves and commit to achieving this positive change, I think this dream that I share with so many others, will someday become a reality.

About the Author
Tomer Kornfeld is a 20 year old Sophomore, an alumnus of the StandWithUS MZ Teen Program & StandWithUs Emerson Fellowship, the President of the John Jay Hillel, StandWithUs NYC Campus Liaison and Alpha Epsilon Pi Israel Engagement Chair. In addition, Tomer is majoring in Justice and Humanities at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and is set to graduate in 2017. When asked what drew him to Israel Advocacy, he said he believes that it is his duty to help spread the truth about what goes on in Israel. While he admits that Israel isn't perfect, he says that no country is, and it is despicable that Israel is held to a double standard that no other country is held to.
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