The ZFA trains a New Generation of Israel Advocates

July 21, 2011 by  
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Twenty young Australians visiting Israel on IBC, AUJS Aviv or Bnei Akiva shnat MASA programs dedicated three days to an intensive seminar, preparing them to be activists and advocates for Israel upon their return to Australia.

The 20 advocacy course members mix it with other on their Gap Year from Melbourne

The future of Australia’s Israel advocacy activity now looks even stronger, following the second instalment of the Zionist Federation of Australia’s Israel Advocacy Seminar for long term Israel program participants.

The seminar program was developed and implemented in conjunction with Michelle Rojas Tal from StandWithUS, who has visited Australia several times in recent years, impressing us with her knowledge and ability to present Israel’s case.

As advocacy evolves from newsprint to new media, the session from Neil Lazarus on Digital Diplomacy was crucial. Not only did Neil sketch the map of the new media, he provided tools to not only navigate within it, and also direct the agendas. By the end of his session, participants had set up their own websites, newsfeeds and blogs.

Headline Media, a company specialising in training public speakers for television, worked with the participants on their presentation skills – getting the message right and presenting it in the best possible ways. Challenging them to be videoed and analysed, the session leaders took the participants to a new level of experience and confidence.

Aussie Oleh Mark Regev, who serves as PM Netanyahu’s advisor, tested the participants’ skills and responses in a high energy, interactive session.

“It’s complicated” is perhaps the most common refrain on the Israeli- Palestinian situation that one hears in Israel. A field trip to Hevron, where participants were addressed by a member of “Breaking the Silence” as well as a member of the Hevron Jewish Community, was a classic example of the complexity of the issues students will need to respond to back in Australian campuses.

ZFA Executive Director, Ginette Searle was present at the seminar said: “The Israel Advocacy Seminar has been a tremendous success. We have here a group of talented and motivated young people, who are experiencing Israel first hand, and are committed to coming back to Australia as her advocates, on campus and beyond. The ZFA is proud to have brought them together, from across their programs, to learn, practice and start to work together on activism and advocacy”.

Yigal Sela, ZFA Israel Director and coordinator of the program added: “We designed the program to enhance the participants’ knowledge and to provide relevant practical skills. Perhaps even more importantly, the success of the program was in demonstrating to all of the participants that there is a role for everyone in Israel Advocacy, no matter what your politics or ideological beliefs are.”

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