NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY

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More than 400 high school students from across the United States attended the annual Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit in Washington, D.C., Nov. 6-8.
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High School Summit attendees received intensive training in pro-Israel political advocacy and visited dozens of congressional offices

High School Summit Empowers a New Generation of Pro-Israel Advocates

407 high school students from more than 130 public and private academic institutions across the country attended AIPAC’s annual Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit in Washington, D.C., Nov. 6-8. While in the nation’s capital, students received intensive training in pro-Israel political advocacy and participated in 48 individual congressional appointments focusing on the value of the U.S.-Israel alliance. Among many others, groups of students visited the offices of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). High School Summit, the cornerstone of AIPAC’s Early Engagement program, is an empowerment vehicle for teens interested in supporting Israel through the American political process.

The goal of High School Summit is to provide student activists with the tools they need to be effective advocates within the political arena. Participants were exposed to proven methods of articulating their commitment to Israel, the importance of engaging members of Congress and candidates for Congress, and ways of effectively making the case for the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Summit session titles included: Why We Commit: Telling our Stories; Advanced Advocacy: Debate, Dialogue and Engagement; Conflict in Context; AIPAC’s Legislative Agenda; as well as Public Speaking; Advocacy Writing; and Fundraising Techniques.

59 partner delegations—including 4 youth movements, 36 Jewish day schools, 9 synagogue youth groups and 9 student leadership and advocacy programs—participated in this year’s Summit. BBYO alone sent 120 students, and Write On for Israel delegations participated from Chicago, Cleveland, New York and San Francisco. 75 faculty advisors accompanied their students and attended exclusive seminars and receptions with senior AIPAC staff including Leadership Development Director Jonathan Kessler and Early Engagement Director Eric Gallagher.

Also in attendance were 50 outstanding AIPAC-trained campus activists representing colleges and universities across the country including: Princeton University, Louisiana State University, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Oregon, Northwestern University, Florida International University and Utah Valley University.

In the weeks following High School Summit, AIPAC Leadership Development professionals received scores of laudatory emails from student participants, faculty advisors and AIPAC-trained campus activists who helped facilitate sessions during the conference. From across the country, students have provided testimonies of the impact High School Summit had on them.

This is the way one student, from the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, MA, expressed her enthusiasm: “When I got home, I was asked: ‘if you had to describe this trip in one or two words, what would it be?’ I immediately said, ‘life-changing.’ … The best part about this weekend for me was that I found something I am so intrigued by. I want to do as much work as I possibly can for AIPAC. I learned the true importance of advocating for Israel from the perspective of an American, not just a Jewish, teenager. I would love the opportunity to attend the Saban Leadership Seminar this winter. … If there is any specific thing you think I can do or way to get involved, please let me know! I have already marked the dates of the 2012 Policy Conference on my calendar.”

Faculty advisors and campus peer facilitators also expressed their admiration and appreciation. An AIPAC-trained campus activist from Union College who participated in the summit wrote that “seeing high school students so excited about their congressional appointments reminded me why I initially got politically involved.” A faculty advisor from Gold Coast Region BBYO commented that, “as someone who can speak from personal experience about getting involved early, the things that took place at High School Summit exceed anything that my students can learn in the classroom. For the students to be able to interact with the people whose decisions will make such a huge impact on our country—the people on Capitol Hill—is absolutely amazing. For the teens to be exposed to that and see how the world works is truly phenomenal.” BACK TO TOP