Drexel University’s Dragons for Israel organization was awarded the national Bar-Ilan Award for “Outstanding Campus Activism” April 22 by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America in the first year CAMERA gave out awards to students.
Drexel was chosen out of a pool of 34 schools for best activism on campus. Shoshana Weiss, the founder of Dragons for Israel, accepted the award on behalf of the organization.
Weiss gave a short speech to accept the award, which had a Jewish proverb written on it that said, “Tikun Olam: You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
“In getting a firsthand glimpse into the skewed media reporting against Israel, I was inspired to create Dragons for Israel to help promote a more favorable — but more importantly — more accurate depiction of Israel,” Weiss wrote in an email.
CAMERA presented the award during its annual dinner at New York City’s Chelsea Piers. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., were keynote speakers at the gala.
“CAMERA has always helped guide us in the right direction. They give us accurate information of current events and connect us to prominent speakers traveling the country,” Weiss said.
The group’s website states that Dragons for Israel was created about a year and a half ago “to promote unity and joint action among pro-Israel Drexel University students, faculty and staff.” Dragons for Israel is not a religiously affiliated group.
“There are three main religions in Israel and all different races of people that live there. We want to create an open forum for whomever wants to support and/or celebrate Israel,” Weiss said.
The organization commits to various activities in order to spread awareness of what is truly happening in the Middle East and Israel. According to Weiss, Dragons for Israel has featured guest lectures with Middle East experts as well as Israeli-themed movie screenings. The group also writes op-ed pieces about biased media articles regarding Israel and the Middle East.
The acceptance of the award came before Dragons for Israel’s annual Israel Peace Week. The event is hosted for Israeli Veterans Day and Israeli Independence Day, which are one day apart.
“Tuesday we watched a documentary about three Philadelphians that died due to terrorist attacks or in the army of Israel. [Wednesday] we brought in Israeli Sgt. Nadav Weinberg to talk about the high ethical standards of the army. [Thursday] we are commemorating Israeli Independence Day with food, music, swag and more,” she said.
“Many students don’t know much about the conflict or Israel. What they see in the media is not the full story,” Weiss said. “We try to show students the relevance of Israel to Americans as well as to the security of the world with facts that are accurate and factual.”
Through CAMERA sponsorship, Dragons for Israel members were able to take a 10-day trip to Israel to “learn about Israel’s existential struggle and the influential role played by news coverage of events in Israel,” according to the CAMERA application for the trip.
Weiss won a fellowship from CAMERA to go to Israel with students from across the country, with one person per campus accepted.
“This trip really affected me because I got to see firsthand how biased the media was. I got firsthand account on what is actually going on in the conflict from civilians, military officials and diplomats,” Weiss said.
Dragons for Israel encourages Drexel students to travel to Israel through CAMERA or other organizations. According to Weiss, about 20 Drexel students travel to Israel every year on trips not associated with the University.