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Northwestern was honored as a leader in student advocacy Monday at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual Policy Conference held this weekend in Washington, D.C.
Students from NU were recognized nationally with the “Activist of the Year” award from AIPAC, one of the nation’s largest pro-Israel lobbying organizations. AIPAC President David Victor said NU students “emerged as a valuable asset to America’s pro-Israel community” this year.
Cornell University and Duke University were also recognized, and students from the George Washington University received the committee’s highest honor.
“Getting an award from AIPAC is really an accomplishment that Northwestern should be very proud of,” said Nathan Enfield, co-president of Students for Israel. “On college campuses it can be very hard to make sure that both sides are heard on this very controversial issue. For an organization like AIPAC to recognize our school as a school that has done our part to make sure there is a balanced dialogue for students has been really great.”
AIPAC is one of the country’s largest pro-Israel lobbying organizations. More than half of the members of the U.S. Congress attended the organization’s gala benefit. More than 6,500 pro-Israel activists, including close to 1,000 students representing 325 schools, attended the annual conference. Among the attendees were five NU students, including Enfield and ASG president Mike McGee.
McGee said he was invited by the leaders of Students for Israel to attend the conference.
“U.S.-Israeli relationship and the Israel-Palestinian conflict are probably among the most important global issues today, ” McGee said. “There’s definitely a place at NU for this situation to be discussed and to see what we as students can do.”
NU students were recognized in particular for student involvement in the Get Out the Vote campaign during the election season, providing information for students in wake of the Gaza conflict, efforts to reach out to campus leaders and the creation of the Northwestern Intergovernmental Affairs Portfolio.
“We got a lot of recognition just for being educators and building special relationships with students, especially if they weren’t familiar with Israel,” he said. “We just really wanted to be an outlet for discussion.”
Although the award did not recognize specific individuals, Enfield said members of Students for Israel, Hillel and other campus organizations have been active in Pro-Israel efforts on campus.
Enfield said he hopes NU’s award will strengthen student advocacy efforts on and off-campus, including possible lobbying campaigns in Springfield, Ill., and Evanston.
“We really want to start lobbying Congressmen and State Representations and start talking to them about Israel,” he said. “It’s a universal issue so we really try to reach out to a lot of different student leaders to educate and talk to people about Israel.”
Disclosure: Daily staffer Katie Glueck is a co-president of Students for Israel.