Nestled in a small building in the German Colony in Jerusalem, Israel, is a quaint, historic building known as the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA). This edifice houses a group of scholars who are interested in defending Israel. I had the pleasure of interning for them this summer. The JCPA describes itself as “an independent non-profit think tank bringing together the best minds in the political, strategic, diplomatic and legal arenas.” In practice, this means that the JCPA works hard to enlighten Americans and others outside of Israel about what is actually taking place in Israel. The center and its website are especially helpful for college students who are often misinformed by mass media. The JCPA also sends out a Daily Alert (http://www.dailyalert.org/),a two-page summary of recent events in Israel. This resource was created in order to update political officials, but is useful for ordinary citizens as well.
As a Political Science major, it was wonderful for me to experience such an academic and political environment. The JCPA hosted events every few weeks where scholars and former ambassadors lectured about topics such as the BDS movement and the Iran Deal. It was also interesting to hear the opinions of the audience on the matter. Even though I didn’t always agree with what was being said, it was important to hear different views. These lectures always left the office abuzz, with everyone continuing the discussion throughout the remainder of the day. It was fascinating to hear the views of the people that work in the JCPA and how they disagreed or agreed with the speakers.
The scholars in the JCPA vary in the scope of their expertise. Their proficiency ranges from the circumstances of the population to international affairs. Although my primary responsibility was to assist the internet marketing coordinator, I was asked to assist other researchers as well. I spent a great deal of time fact-checking for articles, as well as publicizing published articles. I spent many hours searching the web for specific pictures of Arab houses, in order to show the public the luxury that actually exists in Arab villages. Two additional interns and I put together a soon-to-be-published 50-page document on the subject.
In addition to my aforementioned tasks, I searched news sites for commentary on recently published articles from the JCPA. I intentionally searched for articles that disagreed with the JCPA position. Then, I commented on those critiques, thus indicating to other readers that they aren’t being given all the facts. I would do this by solely quoting from JCPA articles and researched material, using only fact based quotes to disprove the inaccurate information being presented. My hope was that my comments would encourage readers to look at our articles and get the real story. I don’t know if anyone read my comments, or if anyone’s point of view will be changed due to my research. I am, however, hopeful that my efforts will ultimately lead readers to understand a clearer reality in Israel.
I also enjoyed the office discussions of recent political affairs. These talented scholars would take the time to discuss with the interns their thoughts on the Iran Deal or the UN Fact Finding Mission. It was enlightening to meet other interns from the United States and Israel to discuss our varying views that were formed by our diverse backgrounds.
I learned a tremendous amount from this summer experience. I hope that at least a few people will be encouraged to research facts the next time they hear a story about Israel on the news instead of accepting a position at face value. I hope that readers will come to realize that facts can be skewed, omitted and misrepresented. Just as I gained a lot from working in a diverse Israel-advocacy environment, I hope that others can gain a similar benefit from my research and experience.