by Chuck Fax
Recently I gave a speech at Ohio Northern University about Israel’s contributions to the world. Located in Ada, Ohio, Ohio Northern is a pastoral venue with a sharp, sophisticated and highly politicized student population. The audience consisted mostly of international relations and history students and faculty – only two of whom had been to Israel, and few if any of whom were Jewish. There was a healthy representation, however, of Arabic students and faculty. While the audience came to argue, they left with a new appreciation for the positive role that Israel plays in the improvement of humankind.
And that has been my experience every time I’ve given the speech as part of a campaign called Positively Israel, spearheaded by Jewish National Fund (JNF). That is because virtually all of the information imparted to these bright, opinionated audiences is new, and as they are intellectually honest, they process it. In point of fact, most folks, including Jews – including Israelis – are woefully uninformed on the modern scientific and technological miracles wrought by Israel every day that are making the world a better place.
In just 64 years of independence, Israel has become a global leader in renewable energy, agricultural innovations, and medical breakthroughs. Its achievements improve quality of life not just within its borders but throughout the world.
Headlines routinely announce new Israeli breakthroughs in medicine, pharmaceuticals, computer science and engineering, agronomy, defense technology, physics and on and on. The pioneering spirit embodied by the halutzim over one hundred years ago when they first cultivated the land of Israel today resides in the brains of their descendants, whose intellectual and commercial fields of cultivation span the world and are fertilizing it anew.
But still, most of the world knows little about Israel that does not have to do with conflict. The goal of Positively Israel is to change the conversation and highlight the incredible work that Israel does every day to make the world a better place. The cornerstone of this campaign is a speaking tour at colleges and universities throughout the country.
People of good will, which includes most people, are open to our approach. The challenge is for us to marshal our resources effectively and spread the word as broadly, and as rapidly, as possible. Hopefully, many thousands of college students will soon see Israel in a new, and better, light. That is our goal.
Chuck Fax is Jewish National Fund’s Vice President of Israel Action.