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US, Canadian Students Visit Israel, Learn How to Better Fight Antisemitism on Campus

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JERUSALEM, Israel – North American Jewish and Christian students visited Israel recently for a closer look at the impact of war. CBN News spoke with them about their impressions and about the antisemitism many are facing back home.

The students have felt the weight of dealing with anti-Israel protesters and antisemitism on their campuses while advocating for Israel.  

Columbia University student Joshua Shain told CBN News, "I'm not going to pretend it's easy. It's a lot tougher than I would like it to be."

The students met with Knesset member Danny Danon, who pledged Israel's solidarity. "We are at war here in Israel, fighting Hamas and Hezbollah, but also those brave students are at war on the campuses in North America," Danon said.

Michael Eglash, head of Take Action for Israel Mission, believes these students needed a personal experience in Israel to help them in their work back home on campus.

"Not too long after October 7th, we saw that there was a tremendous need to bring student leaders, pro-Israel student leaders, both Jewish and non-Jewish, to Israel to see firsthand the terrible atrocities and to bear witness to what happened," Eglash explained.

He expects the students to be better equipped for their mission to take action for Israel.  

"We're giving the tools and the techniques and the content and the knowledge – plus the strategies and the confidence and resilience – to go back and stand up for Israel on campus," Eglash asserted.

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The students visited sites that were brutalized on October 7th near Gaza including Kibbutz Nir Oz, the Nova Music Festival site, and the city of Sderot.

The visit had a big impact on Shain. "To actually be there where these things were happening, where people were being killed or people being raped, to see the houses of little kids toys spewed all about half broken is horrifying because it makes you just realize that this isn't an obscure thing – like it's in the process of the protests and everything that's going on and all the excitement – you can start to forget what's that what this is actually about," Shain said.

Jack Landstein from the University of Michigan told us, "The rush of emotions I experienced and the personal stories I've heard really humanize this whole situation. It gives it gave me a lot of perspective. And that's hard to achieve when I'm in the United States and experiencing antisemitism on my campus."

Landstein continued, "Everybody is human. The massacre that occurred on October 7th was horrific. And these stories have to be shared because people understand personal interactions. And this is something I'm really learning again."

Fellow Michigan student Evan Cohen, who is president of an on-campus pro-Israel group, Wolverine for Israel, agrees it's important for them to bear witness to what happened.

"For me, the Nova Festival site was the most painful experience," Cohen said. "And I've watched, you know, documentaries, I've watched, you know, really graphic videos. But there's something different about being here in person, and different places have different impacts on you."

He called Nova the most painful visit, "Because it's the one with which I'm able to connect the most – because a lot of these people are, you know, relatively near my age."

Nataly Manzo, a Catholic student from the University of Connecticut, is majoring in Judaic Studies.

"I obviously have a different experience, (from the) students who are Jewish," she noted. "I have a major in Judaic studies, so I also feel some of that antisemitism, of course, being identified as a pro-Israel, Zionist person."

Manzo felt most impressed by the unity she saw among Israelis and wants to use her experience here to encourage others to take action.

She explained, "I feel like there's a lot of people out there who, like me, had no previous knowledge about Jewish history, and I want to be a vessel (of) information to these people who are still (debating) if they're supporting, Israel, (or) if they're supporting Palestine. And I think that if they have the right information and the right tools and the right knowledge, and like that firsthand experience, they can become activists as well."

Shain from Columbia feels Christian support for the Jewish people and Israel is vital. 

"I'm very absolutely grateful for all the support that I have received from Jews and non-Jews alike, especially from Columbia's Christian community. By the way, a huge shout out, I think that we could not do this without you. That no man ever stands alone, that we are a community," he declared.

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Danon, Israel's former U.N. ambassador, told us he had some advice for the students. "I told them not to have any fear. You know, I know it's intimidating that you go on campus and people are shouting and yelling, and sometimes we saw physical attacks. They should stand up and fight back. You know, they should not hide their Jewishness. They should not hide their love (for) the state of Israel. That is my message to all the supporters of Israel."


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About The Author

Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel fulltime for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN – first as a graduate student in Journalism; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. As a correspondent for CBN News, Julie has covered Israel’s wars with Gaza, rocket attacks on Israeli communities, stories on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and