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StandWithUs UK sends largest delegation of British University Students to the ‘Israel in Focus’ conference in LA.

Updated: Mar 15

07 March 2024

The annual ‘Israel in Focus’ conference in LA saw over 500 students from university campuses globally come together for a week of intense advocacy training, educational support and networking opportunities. 

StandWithUs UK brought the biggest delegation of British students to the conference; 20 students compromising 17 universities in London, Leeds, Nottingham, Scotland, Bristol, Manchester and more were given the opportunity to develop their leadership skills vital to their work back on their respective campuses. This historic delegation planted the seeds for Israel’s next generation of proud ambassadors.  

The historical delegation will be able to now give back to their communities at home. As they met their international counterparts and shared their on-campus experiences, it soon became clear that the experiences faced by pro-Israel students in the UK faired worse than that of students from America, Brazil, Israel and other European countries.

The conference featured keynote speakers such as Debra Messing (from Will & Grace), Bret Gelmer (from Stranger Things, and Fleabag), Hussain Abu Bakr, delegations of Israeli survivors from the Nova Festival and heroes who responded in the Gaza envelope on October 7th. 

“It was an uplifting experience hearing from so many international students, learning from their experiences and being an inspiration to one another.” Hannah Curtis, Emerson Fellow at City University.

“By talking to so many students across the world who have a shared interest in Israel, the conference boosted my confidence in supporting Israel and the Jewish community even more”, Roopkanwal Sharma, Emerson Fellow from City University. 

The delegation of students was also made up of Jewish and non-Jewish students. Reflecting on this, Salvatore Pagdades from Southhampton University said, “The StandWithUs International Conference in LA is something that I will cherish for life. As someone who is not Jewish, I was honoured to be present at one of the largest student Zionist gatherings in the world and represent the UK. Not only did I gain extensive skills and knowledge of how to combat antisemitism and anti-Israel rhetoric on campus from renowned international speakers, but I also gained invaluable experiences of Jewish life and culture. Whether that was from the Shabbat service to participating in the Hamotzi, I will take away these experiences and treasure them as precious memories that have deepened my understanding of the Jewish faith and community."

About StandWithUs UK:

StandWithUs is an international, non-profit and non-partisan Israel education organisation that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism. Founded in 2010, StandWithUs UK has become a recognised support system and leading resource for students on UK campuses. We empower and energise students and communities with leadership training and educational programmes on both school and university campuses. StandWithUs informs through social media, printed materials, digital platforms, film and newsletters. The StandWithUs flagship Emerson Fellowship programme seeks to raise students into future leaders, equipped to stand strong in the face of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. We believe in the right of the Jewish People to self-determination in their historic homeland of Israel. We educate the facts in an unbiased and holistic manner, with an open mind, reflecting on views from all sides of the political, social and humanitarian spectrum whilst promoting peace. StandWithUs UK believe the current discourse surrounding Israel on campus all too often crosses the line between legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies and the dangerous, mainstream, antisemitic rhetoric which stands contrary to the IHRA definition of antisemitism. We work to educate on that distinction, encourage civil discourse on legitimate criticism of Israel, and to fight antisemitism wherever it emerges.


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