Yale student's idea for mock peace talks on campus takes top prize in WJC / Israeli Consulate Campus Pitch Competition

Campus Pitch candidates stand together with the judges before the competition. NEW YORK - The World Jewish Congress and the Israeli Consulate in New York held the second annual Campus Pitch Competition on Wednesday night, granting a $5,000 prize to Yale University student Lia Weiner for her proposal to coordinate mock Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on campus in cooperation with pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian student groups. 

The 2017 Campus Pitch Competition was launched in the fall semester, calling on students from colleges and universities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Delaware.to propose initiatives for changing the discourse on campus. The proposals were narrowed down to five student group finalists, who presented their ideas to a panel of judges at a happy hour event in midtown New York.

The winning proposal was a two-day workshop and mock negotiation on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process with David Makovsky (Director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process) and Ghaith al-Omari (Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute) in which Jewish and Israeli students will be trained by al-Omari in how to represent the Palestinian side and Arab students will be trained by Makovsky in how to represent the Israeli side. Lia Weiner, winner of 2017 Campus Pitch Competition,

The panel of judges comprised World Jewish Congress North America chair Evelyn Sommer, Director of Public Diplomacy for the Israeli Consulate Galit Peleg, and Larry Kimmel, founder and CEO of the boutique consulting firm Rung-Up.

Israel Consul General Danny Dayan told the students in an opening address: “Today campuses are the frontlines for the delegitimization of Israel, a tool to wipe us off the map. We are aware of the hardships facing pro-Israel students on campus. Those of you acting in defense of the state of Israel – I admire you.

In announcing Weiner as the winner of the 2017 competition, Sommer said to the students: “You are on the forefront in the struggle against the delegitimization of Israel and anti-Semitism. You are our ambassadors.”

The other finalist groups included: NYU student Adela Cojab’s proposal for an Israeli film festival to be held on campus in partnership with different groups on campus to highlight Israel’s LGBTQ life, diversity, culture and innovation through screenings of specific movies; Brooklyn College student Eiron Mizrachi’s proposal for a ‘unity through diversity’ photo workshop to give students on campus a platform to share their personal narratives through visual storytelling; UPenn-Wharton student Sam Collins’ proposal to leverage existing lectures and speaker series on Israel to create video content that can be shown on various campuses and distributed online; New School student Alexi Rosenfeld’s idea “Seven Days in Seven Hours- Experience Israel as if you were there”,  a combination of events showcasing Israeli culture with a focus on fashion, art, film and music.

The World Jewish Congress and the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles will be launching the West Coast Campus Pitch Initiative this week, aiming for the final competition to be held at the end of the spring semester. The competition will be launched in London next semester, and in cities across Europe and Latin America in the semesters to follow. Students interesting in pitching their proposals for the Los Angeles Campus Pitch Initiative can register here: losangeles.campuspitch.org


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