I only had 15 days in office before my university faced the Divestment, Boycott and Sanctions Resolution. As the incoming president of Aggies for Israel, the University of California, Davis' pro-Israel student organization, I was elected 15 days before leading my community through the largest hurdle pro-Israel students face on a college campus: Divestment.
Fifteen days to plan, strategize and act. Fifteen days to delegate, collaborate and struggle. Fifteen days to lose sleep. Fifteen days to gain the trust of a whole community and empower them to believe in me, as a leader, and to believe in themselves.
But those 15 days don't define me.
The reason I ran for this position is because I believe it's really the 16th day that matters. Our work begins the day after Divestment. Divestment is one day, but pro-Israel advocacy is a lifelong pursuit.
When I arrived at UC Davis as a freshman, I was not involved with the pro-Israel movement. My freshman year of college, I attended our campus Hillel once and was unaware that a club like Aggies for Israel even existed.
During my sophomore year, a Hillel staff member invited me to discuss the upcoming Divestment resolution with her. I was an External Affairs Commissioner in our Associated UC Davis student government at the time, and would be voting on the bill publicly. I decided to attend an Aggies for Israel meeting to learn more about the pro-Israel movement at UC Davis. I walked into that meeting that day and to this day, I feel as though I have never truly left. At Aggies for Israel I found a community filled with so many passionate and creative activists fighting for their home. I was inspired to continue coming to meetings and get as involved as possible, and now, I am so humbled and grateful to be elected the president of such an incredible organization.
My first task as president was facing the hurdle that is the BDS movement, a movement rooted in lies and hatred. I was faced with a simple choice: I could either lead my community to stand under the dark cloud of hatred and misunderstanding, or let the voices within our community shine through. I choose not to let myself be defined by Divestment, or the 15 days, so why would I let it affect us as a whole?
These past 15 days, the Aggies for Israel board and I have begun planning numerous events for the remainder of the year. We have four different speakers coming to Davis from all over the world, a leadership dinner to honor on-campus leaders in a pro-Israel context, an event to celebrate Israeli culture and an initiative to take an active role in the American political process to prevent Iranian possession of nuclear weapons.
While other student groups are concerned with instigating campus conflict, our students are supporting their beliefs by celebrating Israel in a positive and meaningful way. Divestment does not enrich this campus -- a positive pro-Israel culture does.
The most impactful way for our community to further its mission of peace is to be productive and make an impact on a political level. This past year, I have been involved with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, otherwise known as AIPAC.
After attending two AIPAC Saban Leadership Seminars within the last year, I have learned valuable leadership skills that have taught me how to mobilize, lobby and educate others about the importance of the American-Israel relationship. Now, as the AIPAC Campus Liason for UC Davis, I believe it is very important to take this positive pro-Israel message and be proactive.
The week after Divestment hits the UC Davis senate, a group of students and I will be going to the California Capitol to lobby elected officials, on behalf of the American-Israel relationship, to strengthen alliances between Israel and the United States government. Instead of just promoting Israel on campus, pro-Israel UC Davis students are facilitating conversations that will make a difference on a larger scale.
As our community stands united and makes a tangible difference, we are reminded yet again how divisive issues like BDS do not change who we, as a community, are.
At UC Davis, the pro-Israel community stands united in support of Israel -- no matter what obstacles are thrown in our course. As one of many leaders within this community, I look forward to continuing our pursuit of peace and pro-Israel sentiment for the upcoming year.
Whether its one day, 10 days or 16 days, we will always focus on the strength of our community and the integrity of our movement. I am truly honored to call myself a member of a community filled with many passionate voices who do not let obstacles like BDS get in the way of supporting their home, their identities or their beliefs when supporting Israel.