While Israel has been fighting back against Hamas terror tactics, and finally reaching a “truce”, there have been the usual anti-Israel demonstrations at several American campuses.

Israel Campus Beat writer Chloe Kent reports that 50 institutions are participating in a campaign celebrating Israel’s contributions to humanity.

As hundreds of rockets rain down on southern Israel this week, students at more than 50 schools across North America are mounting a campaign to highlight the people-to-people humanitarian aid Israel offers around the world in times of need.

The campaign notes that Israeli volunteers continue their relief efforts in the US Northeast, where they are distributing food, water and blankets to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

When Haiti was decimated by natural disaster in 2009, Israel was among the first nations to respond. At a makeshift field hospital in Haiti, a local woman was so grateful to the paramedics who delivered her baby that she named her newborn son “Israel.”

In the largest natural disasters of the past decade, Israel has been among the first responders on the scene, exemplifying the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, or “repairing the world.”

Israeli teams also are working to address ongoing humanitarian issues in places like Kumasi, Ghana, where a team from Ben-Gurion University established a neonatal care unit for premature and sick babies.

The “People to People. Nation to Nation.” campaign, spearheaded by Hasbara Fellowships, highlights Israel’s humanitarian and social efforts, as well as those of several other countries that have demonstrated compassion in similar circumstances.

“In a world where the media is so often skewed against Israel, we as students need to educate other students about what Israel truly is.”
The campaign, made possible largely by a rigorous social media effort through Twitter and Facebook, aims to raise awareness of Israeli humanitarian aid. It was planned long before the current escalation in southern Israel, but organizers have seized the opportunity to highlight the extent to which Israel strives to limit casualties.

“Due to the escalation of violence against Israeli citizens, we are leveraging the support we are gaining for ‘People to People. Nation to Nations.’ to educate supporters, said Natalie Menaged, Hasbara’s director of education. “It is remarkable how Israel has created defense mechanisms that limit harm to civilians on both sides, like the Iron Dome. Now is a crucial time to communicate this to the world.”

“As a world leader in innovation, and a model of human rights, it is no wonder that Israel has partnerships around the world to improve the lives of individuals,” said Alan Levine, managing director of Hasbara Fellowships. “Highlighting Israel’s global humanitarian and sustainability efforts is a great way for pro-Israel students to engage new audiences on campus.

“Israel will be receiving a lot of attention in the context of conflict, rockets and operations,” he added. “It is important that people see the positive side of Israel as well.”

The campaign is unfolding across North America. At the University of Minnesota, Shira Masha, legislative coordinator for the Gopher Israel Club, described the it as “an effort to show how Israel, despite all odds and its own needs at home, reaches out to countries to share their knowledge and expertise.” The group plans to promote Israel as a leading nation in scientific discovery and human rights at the upcoming Minnesota Student Association’s biannual World Fair, which encourages cultural exchange among students.

“As pro-Israel students, it is crucial that we do our part to defend Israel,” she said. “Although we do not fight physical battles, we have a responsibility to assist in the PR campaign for Israel. In a world where the media is so often skewed against Israel, we as students need to educate other students about what Israel truly is ; the efforts that it makes for peace and the incredible contributions it has provided to the world. We want to show that Israel is a light onto the nations in so many different areas.”