Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

New Director of Israel On Campus Coalition Vows to Empower Jewish Students

October 9, 2013 11:33 am 1 comment

Jacob Baime (pictured), who worked in multiple capacities for AIPAC, is the new executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition. Photo: Jacob Baime.

JNS.org – In a story of “what goes around, comes around” in the pro-Israel world, Jacob Baime will seek to empower Jewish students through a group that empowered him.

Baime credits a $2,500 grant from the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC)—enabling him to charter a bus of fellow Brandeis University students to Washington, DC, to lobby some 25 members of Congress from 12 states—with helping to launch his pro-Israel career. After working in multiple capacities for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the 28-year-old Baime was recently named the ICC’s new executive director.

“One of our roles is to be catalytic and not proprietary,” Baime says of the ICC, which was founded in 2002 as a partnership between Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and is now an independent organization that works closely with Hillel as well as the national spectrum of pro-Israel campus groups. “In other words, we identify specific challenges and opportunities and match both our own resources, and the resources of our partner organizations, to those challenges and opportunities.”

Asked what pro-Israel students need the most from Jewish organizations, Baime tells JNS.org, “In one word, they need to be empowered, in any number of ways.”

Students need the tools to address the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement “before, during, and after a BDS campaign comes to campus,” he says.

“We’ve got to prevent anti-Israel forces from making inroads with campus leaders,” Baime says. “We’ve got to deny Israel’s detractors the opportunity to set the parameters of the campus conversation about Israel, and at the same time, we’ve got to fortify the confidence of the pro-Israel members of the campus community. Because in my view, the greatest threat of BDS is the erosion of confidence of the pro-Israel students and others on campus.”

While Israel’s detractors “are constantly seeking to drive a wedge between the college campus and the state of Israel,” the ICC’s response is to “forge new ties between key constituencies on those campuses and their Israeli counterparts,” Baime says. For example, the ICC works closely with the Israel investment group Tamid.

“Tamid is doing incredible work to expose business students and people who are interested in entrepreneurship with their Israeli counterparts, and to bring the whole idea of ‘start-up nation’ to the campus,” Baime says. “I think there are a number of areas where we can do similar work, and I think we can see Tamid as a shining example and a model of what works in terms of forging those new ties.”

The ICC’s strategy also includes what Baime calls a “whole campus approach” to pro-Israel advocacy, through the engagement of not just undergraduates, but also graduate students, professors, administrators, alumni, and boards of directors.

“It’s woefully insufficient to ask the undergraduates—the constituency that’s on campus for the least amount of time—to make the campus safe for themselves,” he says.

While Baime’s undergraduate years were spent on the heavily Jewish campus of Brandeis, where Jewish students would presumably feel safe, he says that situation presented unique challenges.

“Students [at campuses like Brandeis with large Jewish populations] feel they’re in an inherently pro-Israel environment, and they aren’t necessarily motivated to get involved,” Baime says. Another challenge on campus was “overextension,” he says, explaining that students can be involved in so many different activities that they are unable “to really commit to Israel activism.”

As the national field director of AIPAC, Baime supervised a national team of professional campus organizers, oversaw strategic campus initiatives, and managed 10 national training platforms for college and high school students. Most recently, he served as area director for AIPAC’s New England Region.

“AIPAC’s campus program is one of its crown jewels, and the training I received from AIPAC gave me a really firm grasp on how the campus works, [and on] the various players,” Baime says. “I think that as a result of my work with AIPAC on campus, I understand how to identify, develop, and mobilize campus resources in support of Israel.”

At the ICC, Baime will oversee the group’s close partnership with Hillel, the North American network of campus centers. He calls Hillel “a key player in the Israel campus network, if not the key player.”

Hillel, which has grown to more than 550 locations across North America, also recently hired a new executive, former Ohio congressman Eric Fingerhut. The organization has been faced with the question of which groups belong under its “big tent,” one that according to Hillel policy welcomes students of every Jewish background and denomination. At the same time, Hillel also has official Israel Guidelines that state it will not “partner with, house or host organizations, groups or speakers that delegitimize, demonize or apply a double standard to Israel.”

Fingerhut told JNS.org when he was hired in July that he is “certainly aware” of how Hillel’s commitment to Israel “is challenged from time to time on campuses.” But Hillel’s board of directors “made absolutely clear” that it was seeking a president and CEO who would ensure the organization lives up to its Israel Guidelines, and that was part of what persuaded Fingerhut to take the job, he said.

The ICC has the policy of supporting the democratically elected government of Israel, and only partners with organizations who share that policy, Baime says. He also believes in the “big tent” approach.

“The Jewish community is and always has been radically pluralistic, and I don’t see any sign of that changing in the future,” he says. “I think that as a starting point, that’s something to embrace.”

Baime believes an important decision for the Jewish community revolves around Taglit-Birthright Israel trip participants who return to campus “with difficult questions, about human rights, about the conduct of the state of Israel.”

“I think that we can push those students away, and say, ‘we’re done with you,’ or we can embrace them, we can have the conversation, we can find intelligent ways to answer their questions, and hopefully bring them to a better place,” he says. “I think it’s important to focus on the latter, and I do think it’s important that every student on campus who wants to build a personal relationship with Israel has the opportunity to do so.”

In that vein, Baime says Hillel is “doing incredible and vital work at campuses all across the country to support Israel, and to help every student build that personal relationship with Israel, and I think that’s the key.”

1 Comment

  • Dear Press:

    As an active member of AIPAC, I can ensure you that AIPAC has achieved great success this past month and continues to grow strong by advocating, through bipartisanship, to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of Israel and the United States. This includes building strong commercial and military ties between the two closest allies.

    In the past month alone, AIPAC members wrote to members and representatives of Congress and the Senate, in thanking them for their support on the following issues, that AIPAC lobbied for:

    (1) Preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. In the Senate, members have passed a resolution (S. Res. 65) declaring that the United States will stand by Israel should it feel compelled to take military action in its own defense against Iran. In the House, members have passed the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act (H.R. 850), which authorizes the president to impose sanctions on any entity that maintains significant commercial ties to Iran.
    AIPAC members urged their House and Senate members to support both measures in order to send a strong message that the United States will act to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

    (2) Strengthening the U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation by officially designating Israel as a “major strategic partner.” Such a designation will help the two nations maximize the benefits of their alliance, which includes both commercial and military ties.

    (3) Supporting the full $3.1 billion in security assistance to Israel that the U.S. committed to for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 and beyond, as well as the $211 million in additional funding for the Iron Dome.

    These are huge successes in which AIPAC was a part of, thus, continuing to enact public policy that strengthens the vital U.S.-Israel relationship.

    To clarify, the opinion on Iran is not confined to or shared only by the lobby or neoconservatives, but it is understood by all of the American people and the modern world that Iran is a safe haven for terrorists and extreme islamic fundamentalism that threatens Israel’s security and existence as well as US’s security and existence (with the two nations connected both economically and militarily) through the Iranian nuclear development program, and must be dealt with TOGETHER at all costs. It is an unfortunate circumstance but Iran and other rogue nations in the middle east and elsewhere detest everything that Israel and the US stands for: freedom, democracy, technological progression and capitalism; thus, AIPAC advocates to members of Congress, the Senate and the executive branch of the US (through bipartisanship) that this threat should be dealt with accordingly.

    One is entitled to his/her opinion, but I can sure you that AIPAC is stronger than ever, and will continue to grow as an inclusive organization in ensuring that both America and Israel are kept safe, secure, and strong, and most importantly, united for today and in the future.

    Sincerely,

    Gil
    AIPAC

    On side note, I want to congratulate Mr. Baime on his new position. His contributions to AIPAC were greatly appreciated. We hope to see him run for political office very soon.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Sports US & Canada Tom Brady: Best Part of My Summer Was Watching Julian Edelman Lather Himself in Mud at Dead Sea in Israel

    Tom Brady: Best Part of My Summer Was Watching Julian Edelman Lather Himself in Mud at Dead Sea in Israel

    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady may have been bogged down this offseason over the NFL’s “Deflategate” scandal, but he found unusual recourse in images of teammate Julian Edelman lathering his body with potent Dead Sea mud in Israel. Indeed, as Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski became the latest celebrity voice to offer directions on the Israeli-developed navigational app Waze, and wide receiver Matthew Slater happily got married, Brady has been facing legal issues after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reaffirmed a four-game suspension for Brady as part of a ball-deflating scandal […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →