BY CASSILEE KAHN
AUSTRALIAN JEWISH NEWS
MORE than 250 Australian students were trained in the art of Israel
advocacy during a three-day conference held in Jerusalem this week.
The seminar, run by StandWithUs International (SWU) - a
education organization aiming to ensure Israel's side of the story is
told around the globe - in partnership with the Zionist Federation of
Australia (ZFA), featured lectures from senior Israeli officials.
These included spokesperson for the Prime Minister Mark Regev, Deputy
Minister Dan Meridor, Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs
Edelstein and chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky.
Participants also visited the security barrier, heard from two IDF
and met Sudanese refugees who have sought asylum in Israel.
The aim of the conference, the first of its kind for students on
programs in Israel, was to prepare the participants for the challenges
face when they return to Australia, turning them into ambassadors
articulate the Jewish State's case on campus.
To assist in that process, director of the SWU Israel Michael
they also took part in workshops covering the "three Ds" of anti-Israel
- demonisation, double standards and delegitimisation.
"They can confront the biggest accusations, the biggest allegations
are thrown at Israel on campus right now. They deconstruct them and
ready response," Dickson said.
"These guys can say that I've been there and know the issues, and
they'll have more credibility."
Executive director of the ZFA Robbie Franco, who was one of the
of the program, said: "We hope that this will serve as a model for other
communities and that in the future, every one of the 8000 overseas
on one-year programs will be afforded the opportunity of becoming a
ambassador for Israel.
"We believe this to be one of the most exciting new projects that
undertaking - one that can dramatically assist in improving Israel's
around the world."
Reflecting on the experience, participant Ashley Osie from Sydney
"The past three days have been really intense. We have heard from an
incredibly diverse range of speakers, who have each presented us with a
of facts, opinions and information, and have taught us invaluable skills
techniques for advocating for and actively supporting Israel."
Dean Leveton from Sydney concurred. "The seminar ensured I can
embrace university life, both as a Zionist and a Jew. To all university
colleagues, challenge me. I dare you," he said."