Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the fifth annual Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting Conference in Boston as a Rutgers University Fellow.
I feel very privileged to be chosen as one of the 50-something students who will be working with CAMERA this year. The organization introduced us to many pro-Israel activists from all over the world, such as JSwipe founder David Yarus and entertainment attorney and expert on the cultural boycott of Israel Lana Melman.
It was inspiring to meet other college students from all over the world who are also passionate about protecting Israel — the Jewish homeland. It was also frightening to learn about their experiences on their respective campuses. Some of them had been personally attacked by their peers and even professors for defending Israel against false accusations.
At the conference, which also served as a training seminar, students were presented with information regarding how to confront our universities’ student councils, how to present anti-BDS legislature and how to write an op-ed.
I decided to apply to CAMERA this summer, right after finishing my freshman year of college. There had been several situations on my campus last year that called for action from Jewish students and the Jewish community on campus. Such instances include Students for Justice in Palestine holding its “die-in” on the steps of one of Rutgers’ dining halls. SJP does not promote peace, but rather calls for the complete destruction of the State of Israel. Its members generally like to make a lot of noise, shouting lies such as “Israeli soldiers kill babies,” and they convey their message in a very aggressive and disturbing manner.
A friend of mine had the professor of one of her Middle Eastern studies classes make a statement about Jews’ control of the media. My friend spoke out in class against the professor’s comments. After her grade was lowered to something she did not deserve, she had to report the professor and write out a statement about the dispute she had in class with the professor.
Another friend of mine had another student make a derogatory comment in class about Jews. The comment was completely random, having nothing to do with the lesson or the discussion.
As a whole, being Jewish at Rutgers is a great experience. With a very active Hillel, Chabad and RJX, Jewish students always have community centers where they can feel free to express their Jewish pride.
I have benefited from this conference tremendously. Not only have I made valuable connections, but also gained the tools I need to speak out publicly for Israel and the Jewish people all over the world, and feel more confidence in my public speaking skills.
Deborah Shamilov is a graduate of Kohelet Yeshiva High School in Philadelphia. She is a sophomore at Rutgers University.