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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Coffee with Professors Lecture Series: Asher Biemann

In the second successful part of our Coffee with Professors Lecture Series, UVA religious studies professor and Jewish studies director Asher Biemann gave a lecture called "The Beginnings of Zionism: Basic Ideas and Early Debates."
Students munched on free lemonade and cookies while they listened to the beloved Professor Biemann explain the origins of Zionism and its subsequent criticisms. Students heard Zionism's path from a method of re-unification of the Jews to an alleged form of racism.

Neil Lazarus: Israel and the Media

Famed for his dry wit, British accent, and knowledge of Israel, Neil Lazarus easily drew a large crowd at HFI's Israel and the Media event this October. His entertaining and informative lecture was undoubtedly given higher acclaim than even the free Christian's pizza. Mr. Lazarus showed the audience of students and community members just how easy it is to manipulate audio and video footage to attain a desired political or moral angle. Attendees learned the effects of media framing and saw through real examples how difficult it is to entertain an unbiased account of happenings. Mr. Lazarus used both interactive and recorded examples to make his point, making for a truly experiential affair. Following his presentation, Mr. Lazarus fielded questions from the crowd, sharing his knowledge of Israeli government, media, and culture. It's safe to say that not a student walked out of the overflowing auditorium looking at the media portrayal of Israel or any other piece of news the same.

Coffee with Professors Lecture Series: James Loeffler

James Loeffler kicked off our semester-long Coffee with Professors Lecture Series with a lecture titled "The Israeli Law of Return: Between Moral Obligation and Political Reality." Dozens of students enjoyed free baked goods and coffee while learning about this Israeli founding tenet from one of UVA's renowned History and Jewish Studies professor. Professor Loeffler walked the students through the origins of the presently controversial law and traced its path toward its present reputation. He spoke through both historical and ideological lenses, and within the contexts of Jewish nationalism and the Arab-Israeli conflict. After his lecture, Professor Loeffler took questions from students, entertaining queries ranging from the legitimacy of the Jews' claim to Israel to the future politics of the state.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

September 2010: Opening Meeting and Advocacy Training

HFI has started the semester off with a bang, drawing dozens of interested students to our opening meeting and advocacy training sessions.

The opening meeting hosted over 30 students in UVA's historic Jefferson Hall, complete with free dinner courtesy of Basil. Board members Joel Taubman, Carrie Filipetti, and Shoshi Spiro gave presentations of what Hoos for Israel stands for, including an overview of our mission as a CIO and the different ways to get involved.
The meeting was a huge success, generating dozens of signups by newly interested students and spreading awareness about Israel advocacy on Grounds.

New this semester are weekly advocacy training sessions hosted by board member Joel Taubman. Students learn methods of dealing with false, anti-Israel comments and are given the opportunity to practice the techniques in a non-threatening environment. Thanks to knowledge and training amassed at AIPAC conferences, Joel is the ideal leader of these sessions and has been proliferating his advocacy dexterity throughout Grounds.

For photos of the opening meeting, please visit our Facebook page at

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Israel's Birthday Week Blowout Celebration!

In honor of Israel's 62nd birthday (Yom Ha'Atzmaut), Hoos for Israel sponsored a week of celebratory events at U.Va.

The schedule of events included events every day of the week.

Monday: FREE birthday cake and fact pamphlet distribution on the Lawn. The Lawn was decked out for Israel's birthday, and HFI passed out cake and information to hundreds of students.

Tuesday: Israel Study Abroad fair in the Amphitheater, featuring free Mediterranean food from Basil. Hoards of students learned of study abroad opportunities at Hebrew University, Ben-Gurion University, and Technion.

Wednesday: The Lone Soldier Program: A Lecture by Jerusalem Post Contributer Herb Keinon. Mr. Keinon spoke about Israel's Lone Soldier Program, a unique service which provides service for the many who join the Israeli Defense Forces from abroad, coming to Israel with no family or connections.

Thursday: Peace in the Middle East: An Update, with Middle East Expert Yossi Olmert. This lecture discussed the future of the Peace Process, where we are now, and what needs to be done to achieve peace in a region torn apart by war.

Friday: Israel 101 at Hillel Friday night dinner was an opportunity for students to learn everything they ever wanted about Israel--from the roots of Zionism to the peace process to the big ideas that are coming out of such a tiny country!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sgt. Benjamin Anthony

On Tuesday evening, March 16th, U.Va. hosted IDF (Israel Defense Forces, or Tzahal) Sgt. Benjamin Anthony, who voluntarily joined the Tzahal from his native U.K. at age 25 after experiencing anti-Semitism.
Sgt. Anthony shared some chilling tales of the battle frontlines, but the main objective of his lecture was to spread truth about Tzahal and to encourage students to pursue truth in the face of tainted media reports.
With a strong voice, Sgt. Anthony emphasized the humanity--rather than statistics and history--of wartime, recalling personal stories detailing his service alongside friends and comrades.
He often reminded the audience that the typical Israeli soldiers were not strong, fearless men, but rather eighteen-year-olds who, like most of us in the audience, recoil at the thought of ending another human life or at the possibility of losing their own. They are boys who must become men at the shout of an order, who must make split-second decisions without compromising the human rights of all involved.
Following his address, Sgt. Anthony left time for questions, assuring the audience that no question was too personal or political. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed to be taken of him for security reasons, but his personal impact on the audience will surely be remembered nonetheless.
Sgt. Anthony did a superb job of captivating an audience of Jews and non-Jews alike. He demonstrated through personal recollections the commitment to human rights embodied by the IDF and convinced all of us to see beyond statistics and biased media, and to consider the individual and their morals within the Tzahal.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mitchell Bard Lecture/Reception

On February 18, 2010, Dr. Mitchell Bard of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) came to our University to meet student leaders and give a lecture on the successes and failures of the Obama Administration's Middle East policy.

Dr. Bard first met with students, including the President of the University Democrats, the Chairwoman-elect of the College Republicans, representatives of Honor and the University Judiciary Committee, etc., with whom he spoke candidly about the top myths surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict and what the real facts are.

Following the reception, Dr. Bard gave a lecture entitled "The Obama Mideast Policy: A Bridge to Peace or Nowhere," in which he argued that Obama's current policy has angered both the Israelis and the Arabs involved in the conflict. He also emphasized the role of United States, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority, arguing that others have no real influence over how peace is achieved.