'Israel Experience' Combatting Anti-Israel Propaganda

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- One of Israel's main battlefields can be found on American university campuses, often where anti-Israel propaganda is prominent.

To combat that trend, a program called the Israel Experience, sponsored by Eagles' Wings Ministry, aims to equip young people to engage in the ideological warfare they face on campuses and elsewhere.

The program's mission is to give tomorrow's leaders an educated heart toward Israel.

Eagles' Wings Ministry brings college-age students to the modern day land of the Bible for three weeks to witness challenges facing the Jewish state.

Michael Onifer, director of the Israel Experience, told CBN News it's the personal interaction "not just with students, but with members of the Israeli Knesset, with members of the Foreign Ministry [and with] members of the media" that makes this program unique.

"The need for young Christian leaders to have an understanding of what's happening in Israel is becoming more and more important," Onifer said.

"And not solely for the sake of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, but also because this reflects a genuine assault on Judeo-Christian values that's taking place within the academic world," he said.

Regent University journalism student Rebecca Brittingham was the first recipient of the Dr. Pat Robertson scholarship award.

"I was very surprised at how much I just didn't know what was going on," Rebecca told CBN News. "I feel like the media does a really good job at showing the negative side of Israel," she said.

Regent student Hadassah Mendez, who is studying communications and international relations, said his visit to the border with Gaza affected him the most.

"I was most impacted, I think, [when] we went to a city called Sderot, which is on the border with Gaza, and they received continual rocket fire," Mendez recalled.

"It's a civilian town so the civilians actually have families with children. They have to find cover in bomb shelters. It's a really traumatic experience for them," she said.

The students visited Israel's security barrier and were informed on how it is saving lives.

Christian Gonzales, who studied at Yale University, said he now has a better understanding of the peace process.

"There are completely different cultural backgrounds coming into dialogue over peace," Gonzales said."The whole concept of peace -- the definitions are extremely different."

Israel's Foreign Ministry said it needs this future generation to take a positive message back to American campuses.

"The Arabs, Palestinians and others, they are trying to invest so much in these campuses, especially [in the] United States -- to give them the bad idea or the wrong idea about the State of Israel," Foreign Ministry official Bahij Mansour said.

"We need these new ambassadors to go there and explain the facts about these," he said.

Once back home, Mendez said she'll "tell people that Israel is a democracy, the only democracy in the Middle East. That topic in and of itself makes Israel deserving of our support."

"I'd also say that Israel is very innovative and they make so many contributions to the international world," she said.

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Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl

CBN News Mideast Correspondent

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