Traveling as part of Israel on Campus Coalition’s Geller International Fellowship
Abe Baker-Butler (right) and Sheikh Mohammed at the Center for Cultural Understanding
By Abe Baker-Butler
Over the first two weeks in January, I had the honor of traveling on the inaugural mission trip to Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a spectacular group of fellow college students as part of the Israel on Campus Coalition’s Geller International Fellowship.
The Fellowship has been educational and transformative for me. Despite coming in with a fair amount of knowledge regarding Israel and the region, I have learned a great amount from my peers and the diverse set of Israelis, Palestinians, and Emiratis with whom we have spent time. One example of many, is hearing firsthand about the negative effects of BDS on Palestinians. This is never discussed on campus.
It has been refreshing and inspiring to spend time with fellow pro-Israel campus leaders. We have become close friends, and I know we will stay in touch after the Fellowship concludes. It is heartening to be part of a group that understands the positive role Israel plays in the Middle East despite the complex challenges it faces.
The Middle East is complex and nuanced, and anti-Israel “activists” ignore that entirely as they spread falsehoods on campus. I wish that those who unjustly and vehemently attack Israel could see and hear what we experienced on the Geller mission trip.
The Fellowship has piqued my already-high excitement about the relationships generated by the Abraham Accords. Defying the odds, Israel and its Abraham Accords partners are building a new Middle East defined by tolerance, openness, prosperity and peace. It has been exhilarating to witness in person.
As I return to campus, I plan to spread what I have learned from the Fellowship throughout the Yale community and in the Westchester community. I am deeply grateful to the ICC and the Geller family for this opportunity, and I hope the Geller Fellowship will continue for many years to come.”