Students support Israel through UConn Political Action Committee
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 9, 2012 00:11
Support for the survival of Israel and its alliance with the United States has renewed its presence at UConn through the UConn Political Action Committee (UPAC).
The group introduced its purposes and initiatives about this pertinent subject in a meeting on Oct. 15 and continues to promote democracy and advocate for groups that are frequently discriminated against.
President Esti Nof and public relations chief Josh Squire led the interactive session.
They promoted the alliance by highlighting similarities between the two countries’ democracies, as well as arguments for Israel’s existence amid growing external threats.
After introducing some essential facts about Israel, Nof presented the main focuses of the club.
The first is to promote democracy while being impartial.
The second is to promote equal rights between commonly discriminated groups, like women and homosexuals. Nof pointed out there are many Christians living in Israel who were formerly persecuted in other areas of the world.
The final major focus is the rising threat of Iran wielding nuclear weapons and its refusal of Israel’s right to exist, frightening prospects Israel has to face.
Some of the U.S.-Israeli alliance’s most important assets were presented, such as the fact that Israel has kept a 75 percent return rate of the U.S.’s $3 billion of lent foreign aid.
Squire emphasized that both countries have neo-liberal interests, holding the belief that if democracies work together, countries are less likely to go to war.
Nof said the club’s steps of promotion are leadership and involvement, educating others, attending conferences and being in contact with Congress.
She leads a group that seeks to be politically active.
“It is common at a meeting to divide between leftists and rightists, and people of different religions, backgrounds and majors,” she said. “We’re not all political science majors, but we’re all politically driven, and I think that is a beautiful thing.”
The group sends members to American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy and national conferences.
The national conferences are the largest gathering of Israel supporters in the country, held annually in Washington.
UPAC tries to maintain involvement with Congress, as they have met with U.S. Rep Joe Courtney (D-2nd District) on Capitol Hill.
Students of various majors and backgrounds attended, as the group welcomes all people “with an open mind and passion for leadership,” according to UPAC’s Facebook page.
“I think that this group is like a mold that everyone can put their hands on and add to,” she said.
Nof most prided herself on the club’s diversity, evident in the meeting’s seven of 11 non-Jewish attendee turn-out rate, allowing different types of voices to contribute to the group.
Attendees’ majors ranged from economics to psychology.
A graduate student and the president of UConn College Democrats of America, Molly Rockett, was among the six of 11 attendees currently studying political science.
Rockett praised “the non-partisan aspect of the meeting and the focus on engagement.”
“What really fascinated me was the human rights angle,” she said. “I think a lot of people can find common ground.”
Sam Kleinman, vice president of Israeli Affairs at UConn Hillel, the organization for on-campus Jewish social life, was also in attendance.
“It’s great to see a culmination of people from diverse backgrounds supporting Israel on campus,” he said. “Israel truly has something for everyone.”
Nof explained the group invites people in opposition of Israel to come to meetings, consider the information offered and challenge it if necessary.