Israel. Few topics elicit equal amounts of love and hate. For some of us, Israel is a place that is strangely familiar since we grew up reading stories about Jerusalem, Galilee and the Promised Land. For others, the country is synonymous with war, inequality, hatred and injustice. The topic of Israel polarizes political parties, nations, religions and even close friends. Surprisingly, all of this worldwide disagreement is centered on a nation the size of New Jersey.

On campus, we often see the debate before our eyes. We’ve had Palestine Awareness Week and the Apartheid Wall, as well as visits from insider Daniel Pipes and Israeli Independence Day. However, these events are often a microcosm of the Jewish-Muslim battle raging in the Middle East: Jewish students stand on one side of the line, and Muslim/Arab students stand on the other.

Despite the expected Jewish and Muslim combatants, many other people at Cal Poly have an opinion about Israel. A student may support or despise Israel for a host of reasons – political, historical, theological or ethical – and they need not be Jewish or Muslim to have such opinions. Up to this point, it has been clear which Poly clubs cater to those who despise Israel. But now the sleeping giant of those who support Israel can awaken and find a new home on campus.

In the fall, I was approached by a Jewish friend of mine to start a new club, the Cal Poly Israel Alliance. This Jewish friend, a former vice president of Hillel, took an unprecedented step in doing so, since I am not Jewish, but Christian. She was intrigued by my incessant support of Israel and the Jewish people. However, what most inspired her to start this club was my repeated claim that there were many other Christians – hundreds even – at Cal Poly who shared the same view. In this way, a Jew and a Christian worked in complete unity, and the Cal Poly Israel Alliance was born.

The purpose of the club is to bring together all the Israel supporters at Cal Poly, whether they are Jewish, Christian, Muslim or non-religious. The club is educational in nature, not destructive. It seeks to enlighten students about the major ways in which Israel deserves our support, including political, historical, theological and ethical reasons. In no way will the club call Israel infallible or perfect, but it will emphatically defend the nation’s right to its own existence and defense.

In many ways, I see this club as a beautiful restoration of a relationship gone horribly wrong. For more than a millennium, the West has cast off the Jewish people as the scum and refuse of the earth. Often spurred on by skewed “Christian” theology, the West has been responsible for untold atrocities against the Jewish people long before the Nazis or the rise of radical Islam. I am honored to be part of a club that seeks to repair this broken past, and in the process, defends the Middle East’s only democracy where free speech, free press, freedom of religion, and free enterprise reign.

The Cal Poly Israel Alliance meets at 7 p.m. Wednesdays in Building 52 room A12.

Brian Crawford is an architectural engineering senior, the president of the Cal Poly Israel Alliance and a guest columnist for the Mustang Daily.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *