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Student activists get close-up look at U.S.-Israel relations


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Ariel Gomberg ’13 staffs a Union booth about pro-Israel activism on college campuses.Prof. Stephen Berk speaks with AIPAC members after giving a talk on the history of the U.S.-Israel alliance.Emanuel Storch ‘16, Ariel Gomberg ‘13, Cat Ziac ‘14 and Alex Kramer ’16 prep before lobbying Rep. Paul Tonko.Emanuel Storch ’16 and Ariel Gomberg ’13 are pictured with Israeli former prime mistrial advisor Yehuda Avner.Ariel Gomberg ‘13,   Emanuel Storch ‘16, Alex Kramer ‘16, Cat Ziac ’14 and Ilan Levine ’16 gather with Prof. Berk in Washington, D.C.
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Members of the Union community played an active role in “Shaping Tomorrow Together,” the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), March 3-5 in Washington, D.C.

Ariel Gomberg ’13, daughter of Mason Gomberg ’78 and president of the student club U for Israel, organized a presentation for high school students about pro-Israeli activism on college campuses.

Other Union students attending were Alex Kramer ’16; Ilan Levine ’16, grandson of Ronald Levine ’55; Emanuel Storch ’16, son of Daniel Storch ’77; and Catherine Ziac ’14, daughter of Martin Ziac ’87 and granddaughter of Martin Sr. ’56.

Stephen Berk, the Henry and Sally Schaffer Professor of Holocaust and Jewish Studies, gave a talk on the history of the U.S.-Israel alliance, moderated by Abigail Cable ’10, AIPAC’s legislative assistant and policy and government affairs manager. 

Other alumni participating included Alexandra Stone ’12, the former Grinspoon-MZ Foundation Israel Advocacy Intern at Union, and Rob Bassin ’80, AIPAC’s national political affairs director.

“Union students had the amazing opportunity to hear from U.S. and Israeli heads of state. We actively participated alongside some of the most influential leaders shaping U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East,” said Gomberg.

“The conference was a remarkable experience, both educational and inspirational, said Ziac. “We heard first-hand from outstanding speakers, ranging from Vice President Joe Biden to Israeli former prime ministerial advisor and diplomat Yehuda Avner, on topics pro-Israel, past, present and future.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the group via satellite from Israel. 

The policy conference is the largest gathering of the pro-Israel movement. This year’s crowd included 13,000 enthusiastic AIPAC supporters. Some 2,000 of them were students, who enjoyed an opportunity to learn about policy issues and network with others about ways to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship.

“Union College students can play a role in determining the outcome of legislation that directly affects U.S. engagement in the Middle East,” said Gomberg. She noted that students lobbied at Congressman Paul Tonko’s Washington, D.C., office following a meeting with a foreign policy legislative assistant in Schenectady last week.