Candice Hannani, print feature editor
Created to educate students about Israel and the Middle-Eastern conflict, the Normans for Israel Club stands as Beverly’s most direct connection to the country. Over its four years on campus, the club has featured speakers such as Israeli soldiers, El Al pilots and Israeli consulate Shahar Azani.
Each month for the past two years, club members have participated in Israeli 101 presentations and advocacy training sessions, which are intended to prepare students for anti-Israel protests they may find on college campuses.
“The presentations have opened my eyes to all the tragic events that the media does not cover and that go on on a daily basis. I now see the real issues facing Israel. They’ve also taught me how honorable becoming an advocate for Israel can be,” club vice president Shauna Ebrahimi said.
Each spring, the club coordinates an invitational assembly in which Shahar Azani, Israeli Consul for Media, Culture and Public Affairs, explains how he combats negative images of Israel in the media and, most recently, what he thinks about the Arab Spring, the multiple Arab revolutions that began in 2010.
Israeli soldiers and El Al pilots spoke to the club through StandWithUs, an organization dedicated to supporting and fighting prejudices against Israel. Soldiers speak about different moral issues they face on the battlefield, while El Al pilots describe their experiences on the airline that is known for having the strictest security in the world.
While club president Alex Aftalion will continue to bring such speakers to the club, she plans to alter the content of the advocacy training sessions.
“This year, we want to focus more on modern Israel, its advancements and contributions to the world, its unique culture and tradition. Last year we focused more on Israel’s history,” Aftalion said.
To contribute to that goal, the club participated in the Festival of Lights, an annual celebration which supports the achievements and contributions of StandWithUs and Israel. The celebration featured acclaimed author and lawyer Alan Dershowitz and comedian Elon Gold.