Ryan Chartrand

The cell phone was first developed at the Motorola plant in Israel and 24 percent of Israel’s workforce holds university degrees, ranking it third in the industrialized world.

Four Israelis developed ICQ, the program that was the basis for AOL Instant Messenger, and the literacy rate in Israel is 97.1 percent.

Israel Awareness Week, ending Friday, was created by political science senior Jonathan Creme and was designed to familiarize the campus community with Israel as a modern state.

“The only information ever provided has to do with religion and conflict,” Creme said. “I’m here to showcase all the positive contributions Israel makes to the world.”

An informational booth set up in the University Union provides materials from two different campaigns.

“Think Green. Think Blue.” stresses Israel’s developments in solar energy, drip irrigation and waste management. “Flags for Humanity” reports on Israel’s foreign aid and humanitarian efforts through a multimedia presentation.

Signs are posted on campus with facts about the country, and documentaries will be shown from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the Agricultural Engineering building, room 123. The films will cover topics from Israel’s humanitarian aid to its culture.

Both Creme and landscape architecture junior Benjamin Nejathaim are members of Alpha Epsilon Pi, one of the event’s sponsors.

Nejathaim said he hopes the week will broaden people’s perception of Israel to more than just a country embroiled with conflict.

“People might compare Israel to South Africa,” Nejathaim said. “We want to shift the focus so that people see that Israel is as technologically advanced as the U.S., and in some ways, more advanced.”

Cal Poly’s Hillel club is another sponsor of the event. President and business administration junior Melissa Feldman said the club is in full support of the fraternity’s efforts and that it is crucial to shed a positive light on Israel.

“Showing that there’s more to Israel than simply an Israeli and Palestinian conflict might change people’s perception of the country of Israel, even if their thoughts on the conflict are the same,” Feldman said.

Last week Creme conducted a static survey in various classes that asked students their initial thoughts when hearing or reading the word Israel, and then asked several multiple choice questions about technological development and environmental practices in Israel.

Following the event, Creme will conduct another survey in the same classes to gauge the success of Israel Awareness Week and whether or not student perception was broadened.

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