"The philosophy of the classroom today will be the philosophy of government tomorrow." ~Abraham Lincoln
These images are more and more common as anti-Israel sentiments have been increasing across the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Revolutions. However, a sight not so common is the amount of anti-Israel hatred weaving through our colleges and universities. Photos like the one below seem to somehow be hidden in the internet or not covered by the media, but support for the Palestinian causes are growing at the same alarming rate as vitriolic animosity towards the state of Israel.
The external threat toward Israel is getting worse, and fast, with ever-increasing anti-Israel bias. Amidst all this pro-Israel supporters and sympathizers have reckoned they need to raise pro-Israel leaders particularly in the college campuses often promoting against Israel. CUFI on Campus is the organization at the forefront of this cause, helping cultivate tomorrow's pro-Israel leaders. CUFI, Christians United For Israel, is a Christian organization which seeks to share a biblical perspective on the country of Israel, yet it extends beyond spiritual belief to provide sound political and social statistics and information regarding Israel.
In essence the organization can be described as a reaction to anti-Israel worldview. The college wing of of the organization sees its mission as more than a simple reaction, namely as a group on "the frontline in the ideological war on Israel and the right of the Jewish people to [have] a home of their own. If you haven't spent time on a college campus recently, you would be shocked by how bad the situation has become."
The CUFI on Campus website makes sure to note that the organization empowers students to search for truth, advocate for the innocent, and make a difference in a world where injustice exists: "You can impact our future leaders. You can take action today that will make a positive difference tomorrow."
To see the initiatives and goals of the organization, and how CUFI on Campus let's take a look at what their alumni are doing now to carry out those goals. First, why are students increasingly involving themselves with CUFI?
When asked how they got involved and why they connected to CUFI on Campus, the alumni stated:
Hope Dodson: "When I began to learn more about the Jewish heritage of my own faith I was very interested in knowing more...I attended a private Christian university and I wanted to share all of this information that had become so fascinating to me with my peers. I contacted the organization to get more information....and as I continued to be educated, I became more and more passionate about the US relationship with Israel and being a voice for this country that is so negatively targeted."
Elizabeth Ploshay and Tres Whittum both express that their faith backgrounds also gave them a slight edge toward support for Israel, but that it was not until they attended the CUFI Summer Conference that they developed a passion for educating others about the truth behind Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.
Students attend a CUFI summit
When asked about what stood out the most in their experiences Emily Lofgran made it known that CUFI provided clear "facts and figures that I could share with anyone who would listen. I was fired up to advocate for Israel on my campus and in my community because I knew the facts would back me up." Elizabeth Ploshay stated her Christian faith propels her to support Israel, but that CUFI provided facts and "action points" to where her support was not just spiritual but one founded on "common sense."
Elizabeth, similarly to the other alumni, also mentioned their trips to Israel as life-changing moments. "Going to Israel made me realize what an ally it is for the US given shared values, threats, technology and advancements." Being "struck by piles of shoes in the holocaust memorial" Elizabeth emphasized that CUFI "says you can make a difference."
Today, Elizabeth is working in Congress as a legislative assistant to develop and present various pieces of legislation pertaining to Israel. This experience has lead to the belief that the biggest threat against Israel is the illegitimacy campaigns running through Iran and the UN, those advocating for Israel to surrender land and ultimately its sovereignty. There is a lot of propaganda in existence, but little of it contains truth regarding Israel, their interaction with the Palestinians, and the Palestinian protests against Israel.
Just recently it was uncovered how Hamas in West Bank are faking deaths and funerals. The Blaze's Billy Hollowell wrote on how even in the past few weeks Palestinians have worked to deceive and manipulate through these fake injuries. CUFI says it exists for reasons like this, "to confidently speak on Israel's behalf, using facts, without demeaning anyone else's opinion in the process."
Hope also states that CUFI desires and teaches its supporters to "create conversation" within their circles of influence, conversations which lead students to ask questions and do sound research rather than simply exchange unpleasantries. CUFI students desire to advocate on behalf of whatever truth is, and their experience propels them into a life of service after obtaining their diplomas.
Today Elizabeth Ploshay is currently working as an English Teacher at Hebei Normal University for Nationalities in Chengde, China and has this to say about the legacy CUFI left for her:
"While finishing up my final year at Drake University, I learned that Drake had a program that sent recent graduates to China to teach English. I had previously studied Chinese and wanted to do work that would help people. I will probably only be here for a year before I return to the states for law or graduate school. CUFI on Campus helped me put my faith into action. I believe that I was called to China so I can love and serve people. Along with teaching, I'm working on building relationships with orphanages in the area to do humanitarian work."
"More than anything with CUFI on Campus, I learned an extensive amount about how to accurately and efficiently speak up for unjust situations. Everyday, whether having a discussion with a friend about current events or trying to get a sick child to a local medical clinic in Haiti, I am consistently reminded of different experiences and strategic conversational tactics that I learned in CUFI on Campus that taught me how to effectively do so."
These alumni were also asked their perspective on issues pertaining to foreign policy and the relationship between Israel and the United States:
There is a contingent of people who think the U.S. is "too involved" in Israeli affairs. Why is the U.S.-Israel relationship so important both from a geo-political and moral standpoint?
Hope Dodson said that it is "in America's best interest to remain involved with a country that has been one of our closest allies since their inception in 1948."
"From a moral standpoint, There are an excessive amount of double standards expected of Israel. Many of the same situations occur right here in the US (borders, immigration, etc.) but if rockets were being shot from Mexico into Texas, our government would never be expected to continue to provide necessary resources to the area [let alone] not retaliate in defense."
Dodson went on to explain that Israel "is surrounded by countries who are openly declaring her destruction" and that "it is absurd to expect the leadership of Israel to do anything less than defend themselves, especially when their allies are so quickly backing away."
"Many American's don't realize how adamant many extremist Muslims are on the destruction of The United States, not only Israel, and the implementation of Sharia law here. I am afraid that by the time the majority decide to become aware, it will be too late to change it, which is why CUFI and CUFI on Campus is a crucial voice in a time such as this," she told TheBlaze.
Emily Lofgran mirrored Dodson's sentiments, saying that "Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and that "the U.S. and Israel share common values."
"From a political standpoint, it is that simple. We have to remember that the Middle East is an area of great animosity toward America. Israel is our first line of defense."
Lofgran continued that those of goodwill "have a moral obligation to stand with Israel."
"President Ronald Reagan said, 'For the people of Israel and America are historic partners in the global quest for human dignity and freedom. We will always remain at each other's side.' That quote is a significant reminder of the relationship's history. We aren't just saying we should befriend Israel now. We are continuing a two-sided relationship of support. As a Christian I also recognize the Biblical reasons for maintaining the relationship and I urge those of faith to take the stand."
So in light of all the vitriolic hatred, misinformation, and anti-Israeli propaganda, especially on our college campuses, there is an organization which seeks to promote productive conversation, advocate on the side of truth, and develop young leaders to serve others during and after their academic careers.
The Blaze's Tiffany Gabbay contributed to this piece.