CJU Hosts Israel Election Week

Vanessa Persico

The Colgate Jewish Union (CJU) collaborated with other campus groups to host a series of events publicizing the Israeli national elections, which took place on Tuesday.

Colorful posters from the Hasbara Fellowship, each depicting a different Israeli political party, decorated walls all across campus. Members of the CJU also set up a table in the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) offering informational pamphlets and handouts.

In addition, the CJU established a link at www.israelvotes.com for Colgate students to participate in an online mock election.

The events began with a Brown Bag lunch at the Ralph Bunche Peace and International House, moderated by George W. and Myra T. Cooley Professor of Peace Studies and Professor of Art and Art History Dan Monk.

Two days later, the Harry C. Behler Debate Society publicly debated whether Israel should have a nuclear program. The audience shared their comments.

“It didn’t really relate back to the elections,” Sophomore CJU co-president Ceci Sibony said. “But any exposure is good.”

On Monday, President of the Jewish Studies Departmnet at the University of Michigan Zvi Gitelman delivered the Lautenberg Lecture on the history and varieties of Zionism.

Gitelman began with a rundown of the history of Jewish pride and identity, beginning with the era of the French Revolution, when residents of Jewish ghettos were emancipated, and ending with Zionism’s implications in present-day Israeli politics.

He described the forces and experiences that moved Theodor Herzl to found the Zionist movement in the late nineteenth century. Zionism in its truest form, he said, aims to establish a Jewish state, gather the exiles and construct a model state.

He explained that the term Zionism has become an imprecation like fascism: it is more often used as a negative label than as an expression of its original goals.

“The ethnic, religious and economic tensions of Israel have dulled the luster of the great experiment,” Gitelman said.

On Tuesday, the CJU hosted an election party in the Coop TV room. Students who had not yet voted online cast their votes on paper ballots and pored over political pamphlets.

As part of the gathering, Interim Director of Jewish Life Marc Bragin moderated a debate in which each student represented a particular Israeli political party.

CJU members tallied online and paper votes and concluded that, in Colgate’s mock Knesset, the Kadima party would have won by a large margin, followed by the Likud, Socialist, Green Leaf and United Arab List parties,

“[The week] was good in terms of informing people, but we would’ve liked better turnouts, of course,” sophomore CJU co-president Caryn Fields said.

Sibony said that the two goals of the week were to increase awareness of the election and to publicize its importance, even for non-Jews.

Sibony explained why Colgate students should care about an election taking place on the other side of the world:

“Given the current situation in the Middle East,” she said, “All of these things interlock that are continually affected by different governments.”

Other campus groups that assisted in sponsoring the Israeli Election Week events were the Peace and Conflict Studies department, College Democrats, College Republicans, the Muslim Student Association and the Harry C. Behler Debate Society.