Students Supporting Israel (SSI) at the University of Iowa is a newer, but very strong chapter. Idan Nadler is this years president of SSI at the University, and is a junior studying finances with a certificate in public health.
Although they have not been established for long, Idan is proud of his chapter and all that they have accomplished, “We have about 33 members right now, and we’re constantly growing.”
Idan got involved with SSI from the very beginning, and was one of the founding members of his chapter. His friend told him about the club, and was asked to join, “I didn’t know what I was signing myself up for, but I ended up liking it a lot.” Idan and his friends were very adamant in ensuring that there was a voice on campus and, “Making sure Israel has a pro-Israel organization on campus to speak out if there are injustices.”
The climate on their campus is generally lax, and although there are opposing groups on campus, they are not overly active. “There’s definitely more pro-Israel people on campus opposed to anti-Israel voices on campus. The information that I’m basing that off of is the fact that we had a Holocaust survivor come speak about a year ago about his experiences in Auschwitz. There was a BDS organization that had an event at that same time, and they had maybe 20-30 people while the Israel event with the Holocaust survivor had 500-600 people.”
This chapter has had many important and successful events, and they recently met with Elan Chargo to talk about coalition building and how they can focus on making their chapter an even better one as the years go by.
Although they are a new chapter, they had great success with a 9/11 event where they planted flags for remembrance, and opened an area for conversation within their campus.
“SSI has had a huge impact on my life. Not only is it a great resume and skills builder, but it also feels good to bring value to the community. Although we are here to be pro-Israel, we also want to help out the community and honor certain days that deserve to be honored and remembered. I think the greatest thing that SSI had done for me is that it has made me more aware about Israel, as well as the Israeli-American relationship”.
When I asked Idan what he would like to see his campus turn into, he had the perfect response, “One big Bar/Bat Mitzvah honestly. I just want to see the campus turn into a campus that is open to having a conversation about Israel. I’d also like to see this campus continue to support Israel. When I leave here, I want the work that I and my board members have done to continue, keep growing, and thriving”.
Idan wants to tell the members of SSI across the country to, “Never forget why we’re here. We’re here because that little country that so many people have fought over and died for will not always be ours if we don’t protect it. We need to fight for it. It’s important to always remember why we are here; where we began and what we’ve been through to get where we are. The future is bright, we just need to keep working towards it”.