1. Where are you from in Israel, what is your position with SWU and when did you start?
My parents made Aliyah from San Diego to Jerusalem in 1985 where I was born and raised. My maternal aunts, Ellen Fox and Beth Palmer live in San Diego County. Ellen is the school director at Temple Solel, while Beth is a nurse practitioner at the Veterans Administration Hospital. I moved here to assume the position of director, StandWithUs San Diego in August 2019.
2. What did you do in IDF and where were stationed?
I served in the IDF as a tank commander from 2008 through 2010 and was called back as a reservist during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014.
3. Where and what did you study in university?
After service, I studied sociology, anthropology and political science at Hebrew university. From 2013-15, I was an assistant to MK Yisrael Katz, Israel’s Minister of Transportation and Development and later created cultural programs for young professionals for the city of Jerusalem.
4. How did you get involved with SWU? What experiences have you had that prepared you for the job?
Many of my friends are employed by SWU, so I was well aware of its extraordinary work and always admired its mission. I applied immediately when I learned the organization was searching for a director for the region my family is from.
5. What are your goals this year as the Director of SWU and what have you accomplished so far?
So much of my life prepared me for this position including my involvement in the NGOs when I worked at the Knesset. This led me to understand the enormity of misinformation about Israel in the Diaspora and that rampant antisemitism must be addressed through proactive education.
My goal, together with associate director Yael Steinberg and our energetic local Advisory Board is to build on the exceptional work SWU San Diego has accomplished and ensure that it continues to be the “go to” organization that campus, high school and community activists turn to for the tools and information they need to educate about Israel.
6. What are some local SWU programs?
I am extremely proud of hosting our “Leaders of Tomorrow” gala last October. Aptly themed, attendees and staff were “Standing Together Against Antisemitism,” as SWU SD honored the memory of Lori Kaye-Gilbert and paid tribute to survivors Noya Dayan and Almog Peretz and heard from keynote speaker Larry Elder.
I represented SD at SWU’s January, “Israel in Focus International Conference” held in LA. The annual 3-day event aggregated SWU student leaders and community members from all over the world. They learned from world-renowned experts and participated in breakout strategy sessions about the many facets of the work we do to combat the antisemitism facing Jewish people today and inspire communities on campuses and beyond with all things Israel.
Elisa Alloul, SWU’s Campus Strategy Coordinator presented about how to combat the campus war on Israel and again, at a “Lunch & Learn” at the Jewish Federation of San Diego.
This year, we are expanding our activities. In February, we have a movie night for teens on the 22nd. On the 23rd, we are bringing Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid to Temple Solel to speak about human rights violations in the Palestinian Authority, why BDS is harmful to peace, and the prospects for co-existence.
On March 1, we’re repeating the highly successful Campus Crash Course for high school students, their parents and community members to learn about effective, proven techniques to combat antisemitism and BDS at universities. Stay tuned for more information!
7. How can SWU help me if I experience antisemitism?
SWU campus and high school coordinators have dealt with many antisemitic issues through our Emerson Fellows and High School Interns. When needed, SWU’s Saidoff Legal Department is enlisted, together with SWU’s massive social media. People experiencing antisemitism are encouraged to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and the office, (213) 254- 3189.
Through our offices in Israel, Toronto, the UK and Brazil SWU has taken on global antisemitism. For example, we have a letter writing campaign to FIFA to ensure that the Qatari government issues entry visas to Israeli fans wishing to attend the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
This is not a “right-versus-left” issue; this is a “right-versus-wrong” issue and I encourage anyone who wants to be on the right side of history to join us in our efforts to educate and inspire people, and to fight against antisemitism until we rid the world of it.