Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

New Pro-israel Campaign Targets High School Students

June 3, 2004
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The newest target of pro-Israel advocates is high school students. Buoyed by the success of e-mail bulletins on Israel for college-age Jews and U.S. Jews in general, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is launching its “High (School) Alert” later this month.

“What we realized from the college experience is that it’s too late to wait for students to come to campus,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Presidents Conference. “We need to educate younger people with the basic facts of the Middle East so they will be able to compete with those pushing an anti-Israel agenda.”

The latest effort is consistent with an emerging trend of Jewish communal organizations targeting ever younger Jewish audiences with Zionism.

High Alert, whose primary funder is the Avi Chai Foundation, will emphasize Jewish pride, said Lenny Ben-David, an Israeli consultant who has worked on each of the e-mail news bulletins through the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

In addition to news summaries, High Alert will feature a number of resources and links so that students can learn more about Israel-related topics in which they are interested.

Hoenlein said the conference’s Daily Alert e-mail now reaches more than 300,000 people. It is filled with Middle East news stories and pro-Israel columns and editorials.

The Israel Campus Beat is a weekly e-mail with “more of a review of the news and an element of debate,” Ben-David said, including “the fringes of the consensus” of pro-Israel thinking. It also features reports from a variety of campuses regarding Middle East issues.

The high school edition, which will go weekly in the fall and be distributed to schools, JCCs and individual e-mail addresses, will encourage interactive communication and joint projects.

Among those planned are pen-pal ties between Israeli and American students, care packages for Israeli soldiers and letter-writing campaigns to newspapers. A Web site is being planned as a resource for articles, films and other information about the Middle East.

“We as a community ignored the campus until it was too late,” Hoenlein said. “We didn’t invest in it. Now we’ve started to turn things around. It’s time we do the same for high school students.”

Recommended from JTA