Israel Advocacy at Rimon Club JCC

Israel Advocacy at Rimon Club JCC

I was invited by Masha Merkulova , a powerhouse of Jewish education and a fantastic person in general, to give a talk to the awesome Rimon Club she founded several years ago. The concept? Provide a social group where kids can learn about their Jewish heritage and their ties to Israel. In a few years Masha has amassed a loud cheerful gaggle of teens to learn about their history. The kids seem to love it and they seem to enjoy a sense of identity and purpose, beyond the usual rubbish they and I liked during our teens.

Intresting questions about how to defend their link to Israel, while being constantly attacked at school.

Intresting questions about how to defend their link to Israel, while being constantly attacked at school.

Masha forwarded me this note about one the kids enjoying our talk from one of the parents:

I have never seen … so excited after club Z as he was yesterday. In fact I have not seen him excited about anything for awhile.
Ben has to give  a speech in his English class next week (part of the curriculum). He chose Middle East conflict from Israel perspective as his topic. What he wrote over weekend was quite mediocre. He came home last night and worked until pass 1am to rewrite it. I liked the final product 🙂
His English teacher is a Berkeley graduate… We’ll see what grade he gets 😉

 

Israel 101 at Santa Cruz University, CA

Israel 101 at Santa Cruz University, CA

Amidst the fighting in Gaza with IAF air strickes against Hamas missiles, 1.5 million Israelis dodging missiles lobbed at them I gave a talk in UC Santa Cruz. I was invited by the fantastic “SLUGS” AKA as the “Santa Cruz Israel Action Committee”. The event took place in the Stevenson Fireside Lounge in Stevenson College. My benevolent hosts: Barry Jacobs and Danielle Maimon. They were fantastic. The session lasted 2.5 hours with over 50 attendees.

You can listen to the session, attached as a podcast.

Presentation: Netivot Shalom, Berekely

Presentation: Netivot Shalom, Berekely

I delivered a presentation in Netivot Shalom synagogue in Berkely, CA.

The flyer made me laugh:

“Peace Between Intifadas: Challenges to Public Opinion in Israel”

Nico Black, 31, served in the military in a unit composed of Palestinians and Israelis as a liaison to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza.  With a country jolting violently between hope and terror, he recounts how coexistence, peace and war have pushed many Israelis his age into confusion and some to apathy.

Growing up in a hyper-political family from the Israeli left, his family’s’ political outlook contrasted sharply and violently with the realities outside his doorstep. His childhood and teen years were jolted by the first Intifada, “the knifing period”, First Gulf War, the murder of Rabin, and the suicide bombings of 1996.

Ultimately Nico’s experience as a liaison helped him to bridge the cognitive dissonance he experienced between pro-peace dogma and right wing extremism. Through relationships with his Palestinian colleagues, he developed understanding into the fundamental schism between the Jewish and the Palestinian national movements, from the ground up.

Nico advocates for the liberal, centrist position for Israel and the Palestinians while rejecting partisan extremism.  He obtained an MA from Tel Aviv University and currently works as an online marketing strategist. He lives in Alameda with his wife.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear an Israeli who grew up and worked with Palestinians and has been a PERSONAL friend to the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister.

Nico Black gives a talk on Israel peace process in Netivot Shalom

Nico Black gives a talk on Israel peace process in Netivot Shalom

This was the very gracious letter I got from the organizer after the event:

You overwhelmed our attendees today. Your presentation was so well prepared and so powerfully delivered. I was really moved as were so many others. Thank you so much for all your efforts in preparing such an impressive talk. I hope that you are open to working with SWU and repeating your presentation for college groups; it is so mesmerizing. Many more people need to hear your story and presentation. I hope that you recognized the impact you were making. I can’t recall seeing such rapt attention from our group. Your personal anecdotes made it so real and the way you constructed your slides with the movie titles and with the “peace index” drove your message across very clearly. You seem to be a natural marketeer.

I was very particular about who we would have as our first speaker for our Israeli Speaker Series – I wanted to set the tone for a dynamic, powerful series. You exceeded all my expectations and I received so many positive comments from those who attended.

Todah Rabah not only for the talk, but also for being willing to share your story and reliving so many difficult memories.

All my appreciation and best wishes for success in your new position. I hope we get to see you again.