The Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Guide to Campus Activism

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APN on Campus outlines the three main arenas in which student advocacy takes place, and tells how progressive student leaders and their organizations can be effective advocates for a pro-Israel, pro-peace agenda on campus.

1. Establishing Contacts

Reach out to Jewish leaders on campus

Establish relationships with your university's Hillel director, Jewish student group president, and Israel fellow - the earlier the better. Share your personal story, your connection to Israel, and your interest in being involved with Israel-related activity. These relationships will prove valuable when seeking communal support for your own student organization's activities.

Reach out to Arab and Muslim leaders on campus

Reaching out to Arab and Muslim student and community leaders on campus increases the likelihood of encountering moderate members of this community. By doing so, you can also begin to create the kind of trust necessary for constructive cooperation and collaboration. Look for opportunities to work together, and potentially co-sponsor events. Offer to promote events sponsored by Arab and Muslim student organizations that are related to Israel, the Palestinians, or the Middle East, while asking these organization to do the same for your student group when appropriate.

Reach out to professors in related fields

Sometimes faculty in related fields - such as Middle East studies, Judaic studies, or International Relations - have a special interest in Israeli-Palestinian peace or know others who do. Connecting with them early can help in enlisting them to speak at an event later on, and provide an outlet for finding and luring other good speakers to campus.

Build your mailing list

If your organization is new, ask your Hillel to send out an email telling students where they can sign up for your mailing list. At every event that your group is involved in, be sure to have e-mail sign-up sheets available and encourage participants to fill them out. Maintain and continually build your e-mail database, and pass it on to student leaders who succeed you.

2. Being a prominent pro-Israel, pro-peace voice on campus

Write op-ed articles or letters to the editor of your school newspaper

Columns about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often represent one of the two political extremes. Editors will welcome a nuanced, well-written op-ed from time to time. Try to keep these submissions between 500 and 650 words, which will increase the chance of it running in the newspaper.

Letters to the editor are also an important way to get a point across in writing. Most opinions editors at college newspapers prefer not to allow full length op-ed responses. Short, concise letters (of no more than 250 words) will increase your credibility as a resource on campus.

Table on campus

By setting up a table in a popular public area, prominently featuring your logo, and offering free literature and other materials, you can increase awareness of your organization on campus and attract new members. You can also engage other students in person and ask for their contact information. Furthermore, tabling can be effective as a promotional tactic for your organization's events.

If you do not have your own resources to distribute, click here to request an "APN Care Package."

Devise or join an advocacy campaign

Whether a letter-writing campaign, protest, or other grassroots action, an advocacy campaign can help your student group establish credibility and make a difference. Beyond university-related or local issues, there are often national campaigns led by prominent organizations that your group can take part in.

Screen a Documentary

A documentary screening can be a special event or a consistent one (for example, as a once-a-month "Movie Night"). Often, Hillel houses or relevant academic departments are willing to provide the equipment and space in which to show a movie. For a list of recommended documentaries concerning various aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, click here.

Form dialogue groups

Both intra-Jewish and inter-faith dialogues provide a unique set of challenges. The most important challenge to overcome in both instances is trust; relationships have to be formed that can help facilitate dialogue. For intra-Jewish dialogue, you should start by identifying several individuals who hold a variety of different political viewpoints and ask them to participate. Consider recruiting a Hillel professional or other experienced individual to facilitate the dialogue. When attempting Jewish-Arab/Muslim dialogue, start by reaching out to members of the Arab/Muslim community. If they seem amicable to such a venture, proceed slowly. Develop a mutual set of guidelines and begin meeting in a small group. If this effort goes well, you should seek to gradually expand its reach and goals.

3. Hosting and co-sponsoring large events

Find experts to participate in your event

Consider asking professors from your university, as well as expert speakers from APN and other progressive organizations.

Contact various organizations and ask about the availability of their resident experts. Sign up for their mailing lists and be alert for when these experts and other notable figures may be visiting your campus or somewhere nearby. You may be able to schedule them for an event of your own while they are in town. Be sure to ask about payment; individuals may be willing to speak at your event in exchange for covering their travel costs alone.

Go here to request one of APN's expert speakers for your event. Similar progressive organizations include: New Israel Fund, B'tselem, Foundation for Middle East Peace, Churches for Middle East Peace, Ameinu, The Telos Group, Just Vision, Partners for Progressive Israel.

Reach out to other student organizations

Other relevant student organizations may be willing to co-sponsor your event. Their participation can potentially provide valuable help with funding, logistics, connections, and publicity. If they are unable to co-sponsor, an organization may be willing to tell their members and supporters about your event by forwarding information or invites to those on their mailing list.

Work out logistics and budget

A variety of logistical concerns will arise when planning a large event. Book a room or venue early; rooms accommodating large groups are often booked far in advance. After booking the room, determine what kind of set-up and equipment are needed and provide this information to the appropriate people (such as events planners or managers) as far in advance of the event as possible.

If you need further funding for your event, ask Hillel staff if they know of any funding opportunities. Also consider approaching the university president and the student government, who both may have funds earmarked for event sponsorships. You may also want to search for other grants to apply for.

Launch an aggressive publicity campaign

To maximize turnout, use all available means to generate publicity for the event. Promotional tactics can include:

  • Featuring the event on all of your organization's online and social media outlets
  • Designing an event invite page (on Facebook and/or another online service) and disseminating it through your mailing list
  • Reaching out to your contacts on campus and asking that they do the same
  • Posting and handing out flyers about the event as often as possible, ideally for about a month leading up to the event
  • Further advertising on Facebook or in larger newspapers (if you have sufficient funding)
  • Notifying local and media outlets; they may choose to cover the event
  • Finding websites and other outlets that allow you to post information about your event for free
  • Contacting your student newspaper to place an ad (they often have discounts for student groups)
  • Seeking to have a relevant op-ed written on behalf of your organization published in the student newspaper shortly before your event

Use the event to expand your mailing list

Have e-mail sign-up sheets available and plainly visible while actively encouraging participants to fill them out.

For more information, contact