By Wendy Blumfield
With the growth of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activism on campuses throughout the world, it was refreshing to meet a group of young non-Jewish International bloggers who were on a solidarity visit with the organisation "Stand With Us." http://www.standwithus.com
Their hosts in Haifa, Hadassah and Stuart Palmer and some of their friends who are activists for the environment and social change, greeted the group of students on the second day of their trip to Israel. Stuart Palmer is chairman of CoHav, the International Coalition of Hasbarah Volunteers and author of the blog, Haifa Diary.
Stand With Us is an international organization dedicated to bringing peace to the Middle East by education about Israel.. Through brochures, conferences, missions to Israel and internet resources, the organization strives to stop the tide of misinformation about Israel on university campuses, in the media and in the community. Founded in 2001 to ensure that Israel is accurately portrayed and justly represented, Stand With Us, a non-profit organization, has its headquarters in Los Angeles with chapters and activities in the USA, the UK, Australia, South Africa and Europe and of course Israel..
Sitting on the Palmers terrace on Mount Carmel, the group gave their impressions of their first look at Israel.
"Every country has its own story with its own people, it is a great opportunity to exaplore this country which is steeped in so much history," commented Australian Chris Richardson. "meeting beautiful and interesting people, I felt I`d known them for years. Here I was in Israel and the media abroad says: don`t go there, it`s not safe. I want to go out see the rest of Israel and its people because I am in love already."
Asked about his first impressions of the trip, the answer was simple, "I was blown away."
"Even if you are not religious, the sight of so many Jewish men and women praying at the Wailing Wall moved me to tears," said Feng Yimeng from China while Eunice Khong of Singapore can`t wait to write her blog on the culture, food, people and scenery.
Kaustubh Katdare from India related how his family were very worried about his trip to Israel and pleaded with him to take a gun. And now he talks about his visit to the beautiful and peaceful Bahai Gardens where he met Bahais from India. "People in Delhi do not realize that the Lotus Temple is actually a Bahai house of worship."
Marcello Arrambide from South America was bowled over by Haifa. "People are curious and want to know about you and your life, not just about what we think about what`s happening in Israel. It was really refreshing to meet a people that are so genuine."
As they continue their whirlwind tour, it is fortunate that they are experienced bloggers for they want to remember every detail in their journey from the green and fertile Galilee to the harsher conditions of the Arava, visiting cities as diverse as Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.