Meet Josh, another one of our very special summer interns. Read about his unique experience countering BDS at college and how he strongly believes that convincing others to support Israel is crucial to defeating anti-Israel sentiment among young people.
What is your name?
Where are you from?
How old are you?
What law school are you in?
I finished my undergraduate degree in May at the University of Michigan and I will be applying to law school this autumn with the hope to start law school in 2015. With my year off I will be moving to Israel for 10 months to intern for the Israeli government with a program called Israel Government Fellows.
Why did you go to law school?
I plan on going to law school because I am interested in international law.
Is this your first time in Israel? Please describe something you have learned about Israel that surprises you or that interests you, even if you have already travelled here before.
This was not my first time in Israel but it was the first time I was in Israel during a conflict. Although I was always aware that Israel frequently faced terrorism, it was never something I had directly experienced. This made the rocket fire that I had only witnessed from thousands of miles away on TV an immediate danger, and one to which I was a target.
How did you hear about Shurat HaDin, and what inspired you to apply to the internship program?
I heard about Shurat HaDin through a family friend who believed it would interest me. After reading about the work that Shurat HaDin does as well as a story about Nitsana in the Tower Magazine, I decided to apply.
What are some of the takeaways from the internship program that you will apply to your studies and future career?
The legal research skills that I acquired during the internship will benefit me in law school.
What are your future plans and goals?
After spending next year in Israel, I plan to attend law school and then, hopefully, join the Judge Advocate General Corps.
Check out Josh’s original blog post below:
It is 7:58am, I am lying in bed after hitting the snooze button on my alarm and waiting for it to ring again at 8:00am. 7:59am, the sirens in the street go off, simultaneously the Red Alert app on my iPhone starts beeping to warn me that a rocket is heading towards Tel Aviv. I get out of bed and stand at the door to my cousin’s apartment until I hear the Iron Dome interception. BOOM! My alarm starts ringing, it is now 8:00am and I need to get ready to go to work at Shurat HaDin.
In an odd way, it is a fortunate coincidence that my internship overlapped with the latest flare up between Hamas and Israel. The other interns and I soon became fully aware just how indiscriminate Hamas’ rockets are, as well as the terror group’s bloodthirsty intentions. This, in turn, reminds us of the very important work we are doing at Shurat HaDin. Each of us is engaged in at least one of many trials that Shurat HaDin is working on to weaken Israel’s enemies financially as well as compensate the victims of terror. Some of us were engaged in a trial against the Palestinian Authority for its role in the second intifada, while others, myself included, were involved in a case against Bank Of China which was allowing terrorists to transfer large amounts of money to one another, facilitating terrorist activities. Our work in lawfare, using the law to defeat terrorism, is one of many battlefields that Israel and her supporters must fight on. When I came back to America after my internship, however, I saw again how this war is being fought not only in the Middle East and in the courtrooms but on social media as well.
According to the latest opinion polls from Pew, Americans tend to sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians by 51% to 14%, respectively. But within my age group, 18 to 29 year olds, the support changes to 44% to 22% for Israel and Palestinians, respectively. I am surprised the poll did not find it to be worse. When I log on to Facebook, not only do I see expressions of support for Israel, I also see people I know posting virulently anti-Israel messages. It is not uncommon for me to see Israel compared to an Apartheid and/or terrorist state by people who I used to go to school with. Sadly, I think this is a growing sentiment among people in my age group. It is being displayed on college campuses, where it seems from one campus to the next there is an effort to Boycott Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel every semester.
On my own campus, at the University of Michigan, there was an effort to divest from Israel last semester. Fortunately, the resolution failed to pass by the Student Government. But I expect there will a new effort next year, where the same arguments will be repeated and emotional rhetoric will be used to mischaracterize the situation. I believe this will remain a fact of student life at many universities. BDS activists will come to campus repeatedly until they get what they want. And while supporters of Israel may be winning the argument, this battle will not be won or lost by winning the argument but by also convincing others that supporting Israel is the right thing to do.