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BZA sponsors campus events for Peace Week

By Rachel Starr
On March 5, 2012

Last week the Brandeis Zionist Alliance hosted Israel Peace Week, a national weeklong initiative involving various events to promote Israel as a multicultural nation. Three of those events were Tel Aviv Club Night, an Israel Inside Film Screening and "Faces of Israel," an event where panelists shared their experiences in the nation.

"Faces of Israel" highlighted the country's diversity. Five people came to Brandeis to share their backgrounds and unique stories.

 The first person introduced was Havtamo Tadela, a 29-year-old law and business student from Ethiopia. Tadela talked about Israel's connection to the Ethiopian community and the dangerous journey that over 70,000 Ethiopians have taken to go to Israel.

Another panelist, Elisheva Obrasky-Roelin, a student studying Economics, spoke about her experience in Israel after moving there from Switzerland. She emphasized that Israel is not a nation revolving around war, but a prosperous place with scientific advancements, numerous universities and helpful, friendly neighbors.

Obrasky-Roelin mentioned having a higher standard of living in Israel compared to Switzerland. She said, "Life in Israel for me, personally is somewhat of a higher quality of life in its very own way. … I'm thankful everyday."

Another speaker, Noam Bedein, was born and raised in Israel and moved to Sderot, an area south of Tel Aviv, to establish a media center. His mission was to educate people about the Middle East conflict occurring there. The last person to speak was David from Georgia, who spoke of Israel and the Jewish population as a whole. He said, "Yes, we are Jews and it is a good thing; Jews are the diamonds of God. Like diamonds we are brilliant, like diamonds we have to have the press and the heat but finally we [become] the strongest element that nature can give."

Responses from the student population to the Faces of Israel were enthusiastic.

Benji Bernstein '15 said, "I thought [this program] was very inspirational and really liked the message of ‘Don't be ashamed to stand up for Israel even amongst people who could be intimidating and have messages that are very radical.'"

The BZA's purpose for these events, according to member Ethan Stein '15, was to convey the message that despite the political arguments occurring in the nation, Israel is still a place full of cultural diversity and close-knit communities.

When the organizer of the event, Pinchus Polack '14, was asked why he put this together, he responded, "We really wanted to humanize Israelis and really show that there is a side beyond the conflict and that there are actually people who really enjoy Israel, enjoy their lives over there and really just have a great time being who they are."

The event differs slightly from the 92 other Israel Peace Week events happening at schools across the country. Whereas other schools are focusing more heavily on the political aspect, Brandeis' BZA chose to focus on cultural aspects of Israel. 

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