By Eva Love
On Sept. 28, students from J Street U were tabling in Howard to raise awareness about the Israeli government’s threat to demolish the Palestinian village of Susya.
“Susya has been threatened with demolishment continuously by the Israeli government,” J Street U coordinator Jack Levin ’19 said. “It currently has a military occupation in the West Bank. The event was a response to the Israeli Defense Minister who was preparing for demolition.”
The J Street U chapter at Lewis & Clark is lead by coordinators Levin, Shoshana Rybeck ’20 and Sheridan Shenkin ’19. J Street U’s stance on the conflict is pro-Israel, pro-Palestine and pro-peace.
“What that means is we support the State of Israel while of course criticizing some of the actions but still supporting its right to exist,” Levin said. “We support the creation of an independent Palestinian state and we support dialogue between Israel and Palestine about peace, formation of a Palestinian state, and human rights crises in the area.”
J Street U is the college and university branch of the larger, national advocacy group J Street, which promotes and supports American leadership to end the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
“As a J Street U chapter we try to use our voices as students to bring people together and have the hard conversations that surround this issue, and put pressure on people and institutions that have power to make a difference in the conflict,” Rybeck said.
J Street U’s social media campaign for Susya is just one example of the action-oriented events they do. The club is also planning educational events on campus, including events entitled “Israel 101,” “Defining Terms about the Conflict,” “Understanding Left-Wing Israeli Politics” and “Birthright Unfiltered.”
Students and professors are also working to bring speakers to campus.
“There is an NGO that works with Palestinian and Israeli children in Israel called ‘Hand in Hand,’” Levin said. “The head of the NGO lives in Portland. We want to bring him to the school so he can talk about what it is like to work with young people.”
The larger J Street U organization also hosts two different annual conferences, one regional and one national.
“Last year we sent over 35 students to the national conference in Washington D.C.,” Rybeck said.
“The national conference is a broader educational opportunity to speak with professionals who work on this conflict and to see the number of students that work on this conflict,” Levin said.
J Street U meets every Wednesday at 4:45 p.m. in J.R. Howard. Meetings cover topics such as conflict terminology and history.
“It is really important for us to come to terms with the multiple narratives around this conflict,” Levin said.
“We want to open up the space to make sure that everyone who has been affected by the conflict or is involved in it feels comfortable and works towards a two-state solution.”