The Zionist student movement Im Tirtzu (If You Will It) - which "aims to bring Zionist discourse and ideology back to the public sphere" - held a conference in the Mishkanot Shananim neighborhood of Jerusalem on Sunday night.
The group, which has grown in recent years to include more than 25,000 members, drew the attention of Education Minister Gidon Saar and other public figures, all of whom attended the event.
Im Tirtzu advocates for Zionism on Israeli campuses. The group's activities include counterprotests to anti-Zionist rallies both on campus and off, and reporting anti-Zionist and anti-Israel lectures and incidents on campus.
Im Tirtzu head Ronen Shoval took the stage to explain in simple terms why the organization is necessary. “There's a group of people who don't want Israel to be a Jewish state,” he told the crowd. “And they have a lot of money. And they manage to make a lot of noise... We're going to strengthen awareness... in the media, in politics, and in academia. We're going to restore faith in the justice of the Zionist mission.”
Senior organizer Amit Barak said Im Tirtzu members often encountered hostility on campus not only from Arab or leftist students, but from lecturers as well. Zionist students experience verbal violence, he said, and the administration often gives its tacit approval by remaining silent.
Im Tirtzu: The Book
Outside the lecture hall, Shoval spoke with Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service about his new book "Im Tirtzu: A Manifesto of Zionist Renewal." The book aims to answer “all the questions about Zionism that our generation so badly wants to understand,” he said. Young Israelis are searching for answers to questions such as why live in Israel, why should the Jewish state remain in its current location, and why enlist in the IDF, Shoval said.
The organization's plan is simple: to continue to grow, and continue to educate students about the relevance of Zionism to their lives. “We will expand our activities throughout the country, we'll stand up to verbal violence... we'll continue to guard the state of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state,” Barak said.