College Israel Story
July 21, 2020
By Nathan Silberberg
“Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.” ― Minor Myers
Rockets exploding, bullets flying, tanks rolling. These are some of the common sounds to most citizens in Israel. To most Americans, these sounds may come off as alarming and/or frightening. Well, the reason the citizens of Israel are used to these scary sounds is because of the ongoing battle between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This battle has been carrying on for decades upon decades. So how do I relate to this conflict?
My relationship to the Israel/Palestine conflict goes back to before I was even born. It starts with my maternal grandfather, Chaplain Morton Harold Singer. My grandfather was a 32- year-old Chaplain when he volunteered during the Six Day War in Israel in 1967 in order to recapture the holiest Jewish city of Jerusalem from the opposing forces. He volunteered at a hospital and eventually made his way to the Western Wall (Kotel in Hebrew), the most sacred place to the Jewish people. The following year, he found himself in Vietnam. At the end of the year, in the middle of Hanukkah, he was on his way to conduct religious services on the front lines for some of the Jewish soldiers when his plane crashed and burned. He did not make it out alive. My grandfather was a hero. Even though I never met him, the countless stories told by his comrades and fellow soldiers gave me the impression that I knew him. Upon a joint resolution of Congress, he was memorialized along with thirteen others with a monument for Jewish chaplains at the Arlington National Cemetery in 2011.
My grandfather’s heroism and volunteer military services is what inspired me to be a strong American Zionist Jew. Those three ardent words are charged and elicit a severely polarizing divide and thus emotions run high any time they’re uttered. The current political climate has seen a straight divide down the middle aisle between nay-sayers and supporters. At the collegiate level, these two opposing sides have materialized in clubs formed by a group of individuals that are strongly pro-Israel or strongly pro-Palestine. From the perspective of a de facto supporter of Israel, the pro-Palestinian students on campus have gone as far as to repeat the trend of Nazi propaganda that depicts Jews/Zionists as monsters who not only somehow control the American government but also all the banks in the world. Although I did receive a certain extent of training to deal with these manifestations of anti-Semitism throughout grade and high school, it did not compare to the extensive training drilled into me on a recent advocacy trip to Israel.
Above all, my social activism is where I am most passionate about. From the very beginning of my college career, I decided to be an “involved” student on campus. This lead me to become the Social Media Director as well as the Vice President of the Students Supporting Israel club. Outreach and a welcoming appearance really went a great distance in connecting to the general public when talking about this sensitive Middle Eastern conflict. I built the entire club’s social media platform and promoted it to thousands of students. The next step in my becoming an “involved” student was to join student government for one of its two vacant positions.
With much success, I won the student government election by a unanimous vote. The overall message I received from the crowd that voted was that my public speaking skills were straight to the point and personable. Joining student government meant that I must serve the public with a neutral standpoint. Now that my sophomore academic year is over, many students have admitted that my decisions were in the best interest of the students during votes on items we had during our meetings. One such action item was when I helped fund the LiveSafe college safety app for $25,000.
Nathan Silberberg’s essay was a winner of the Combat Anti-Semitism Abraham & Sarah “Israel in Me” essay contest.