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      Students Hoping to Lead Aliyah Revolution

      Almost 1,000 world Jewish student leaders met in Jerusalem this week for the three-day Global Jewish Student Leadership Summit. "Zionist students from the Diaspora will be leading the Aliyah revolution!" predicted one.

      First Publish: 1/1/2004, 2:47 PM / Last Update: 1/1/2004, 4:34 PM

      Almost 1,000 Jewish student leaders from all over the world met in Jerusalem this week for the three-day Global Jewish Student Leadership Summit. The students underwent seminars to combat increasing anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment on campus, and discussed ways of strengthening their bonds with Israel and the Jewish people, as well as their responsibilities for the future.

      The summit was organized by the Jewish Agency, Minister Natan Sharansky's Office for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, World Union of Jewish Students, Hillel, and The Israel on Campus Coalition, in cooperation with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and others.

      Avraham Infeld, interim President of Hillel Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, said that his organization is now represented in Israel with close to 2,600 students from abroad:
      "In addition to 2,200 students on Birthright, we have close to 400 students at this conference on four different tracks: one is for charity works such as visiting hospitals and old-age homes and distributing food; the second is an Israel advocacy group, in coordination with AIPAC; one deals with pluralism - joint Torah study for Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jews, with the goal of forming such groups when they return to their campuses; and the last is a group of students looking into hi-tech possibilities in Israel."

      Arutz-7's Yishai Fleisher asked, "Are we nearing any type of Aliyah revolution amongst Jewish students?" Mr. Infeld pondered and answered,
      "I don't think so. The problem is that nothing is pushing North American Jewry to leave, and not enough is pulling them from Israel to come either... I'm worried about several things in Israel: the lack of unity, the politicization of every issue, and we have a very large party [Shinui] in the Knesset that forgets that Israel was created as a Jewish state. I didn't come to live in just another country in the Middle East; I came to live in a Jewish state! I'm willing to accept a variety of different interpretations as to what that means - but not one that [neutralizes Israel's Jewish character]. Our right to exist is only as a Jewish state! I don't agree with you politically, but we argue about these issues as Jews, from the Jewish point of view. Until this message of Jewish commitment and ideology comes out, we won't draw Aliyah...."

      Scott Dubin, a student at New York University, expressed an equally Jewish point of view, but was more optimistic:
      "We're here to learn about various programs in Israel, to train ourselves to help more and more Jewish students come to Israel - first on one-year programs, and then to be able to make Aliyah and make an amazing Jewish life here." He spoke of the "elation" he feels as a Jew "taking part in the fantastic return of the Jewish People to its home after 2,000 years of dispersion." One thing we're going to see, Dubin predicted, "is Zionist students from the Diaspora leading the Aliyah revolution - and Israel is going to be soon turned into a place that simply loves itself."