GW celebrates Israel’s 50th anniversary

Three GW student groups are hosting events to provoke thought and understanding of Israeli history and issues facing the country during Israel’s 50th anniversary celebration this month.

The 50th anniversary committee was formed as a non-partisan coalition of the Student Alliance for Israel, the GW Friends of Israel and the Jewish Student Leadership Coalition.

The month’s events began April 1 with a panel discussion on “Israel at 50: What’s the Future of the Jewish State?” with speakers Lenny Ben-David, deputy chief of Missions of the Israeli Embassy and Ehud Sprinzak, senior fellow of the U.S. Institute of Peace.

The panel discussed right-wing and left-wing relations and Israel’s political future.

“These speakers are world-renowned experts in their fields,” said Scott Wasserman, president of SAFI.

Students also turned the clock back 50 years and listened to members of the Jewish community involved in the Independence War share their experiences at the “Flashback to 1948” program.

Middle Eastern student groups co-sponsored events with Israeli-student groups to foster communication about relations between the two regions.

The GWFOI and the Turkish Student Association co-sponsored a panel discussion on “Turkish-Israel Relations: new developments in a unique relationship.”

“This is the first time the Turkish Student Association and pro-Israel students on campus have worked together and this is especially exciting in light of the most recent developments in Turkish-Israel relations,” said Adam Segal, president of GWFOI.

The 50th anniversary committee and the Arab Club co-sponsored “Peace Through Coexistence,” on the Quad.

The committee also focused on unifying the Jewish community for the anniversary celebration.

“It is my hope that by celebrating Israel’s 50th anniversary on GW’s campus, we will spark efforts to unite the Jewish community in a way that all Jews, and not just specific student groups, can celebrate this wonderful milestone together,” said Emily Katz, president of JSLC.

The committee will host “Israel Fair and Shuk” Tuesday, an all-day event on the Quad. Students can try traditional Jewish foods, buy T-shirts and learn about studying abroad in Israel.

“The quality of these programs has been extraordinary,” said Greg Schofer, Hillel’s director of student activities, who also served on the 50th anniversary committee.

Schofer said he was impressed with students’ interest in the panel discussions, where attendance has generally been high. “It shows that they really care about the issues,” he said.

The committee will host a celebration at Bravo! Bravo! restaurant to wrap up the month of programs Thursday, Israel’s Independence Day.

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