THE ISRAEL SUMMIT MOVEMENT
The Genesis of the Movement - 2017
The Israel Summit movement began at Harvard in 2017 with the goal of painting a much more diverse picture of Israel and of broadening the reach of Israel programming on campus. The Israel Summit was spearheaded by Max August who grew up completely disconnected from Israel. Throughout his freshman year, Max experienced vicious anti-Israel sentiment on campus and grew frustrated that there wasn’t more a nuanced, balanced dialogue. He built a team of students united with a similar vision, and together, they created the first-ever Israel Summit at Harvard. The founding team included Ilan Goldberg, Charlotte Partow, Melissa Kaplan, Alex Popovski, Ben Badejo, Sarah Araten, and Eric Moed.
Israel Summit at Harvard 1.0 - 2018
The first Israel Summit was April 8th, 2018 and hosted an incredible cast of speakers including Former UN Ambassador Ron Prosor, NBA Legend Amar’e Stoudemire, Former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, Designer Elie Tahari, and many more. They also had the distinct privilege of showing an exclusive video from Senator Charles E. Schumer. Other speakers included Gidi Grinstein, Sivan Ya’ari, Provost Alan Garber, Mohammad Darawshe, David Gergen, Trevor Matz, Chloe Valdary, Narkis Alon, and Jon Frankel. If you couldn’t make it but want to watch the livestream, you can find it here (Part 1 and Part 2).
In addition to the speakers, there was an Israel Career and Special Opportunities Fair that connected students to jobs, trips, fellowships, and more. Among the companies in attendance were MassChallenge, Via, Fiverr, and many others. Among the special opportunities, there were representatives from Taglit, Tavtech, Covenant Journey, Israel Trek, and more.
They also partnered with a host of student groups including the Leadership Institute at Harvard College, the Harvard Global Health Forum, Harvad Democrats, Harvard Republicans, Harvard International Relations Council, and many more. These groups all sponsored a series of breakout sessions by the speakers. The Israel Summit at Harvard also had a close partnership with its fiscal partner Harvard Hillel, as well as Harvard Chabad.
The Israel Summit Spreads - 2019
After the conference, the team partnered with JerusalemU to make a short film about the conference. The film went viral and garnered over 1 million views on Facebook! The founding team was so humbled that this video inspired students on several other campuses to host their own Israel Summits.
University of Chicago and Northwestern University partnered together to host a two-day joint Israel Summit in April 2019. They hosted speakers to the likes of Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon, Innovation: Africa Founder Sivan Ya’ari, and many others. Here’s a short video highlighting their incredible conference.
The University of Michigan was next to host an Israel Summit in November 2019. They hosted speakers to the likes of Jonny Caplan, Inbal Arieli, Noam Gershony, and more.
There are currently students at the Columbia University, Stanford University, and other schools planning their own Israel Summit. Each student team tailors it to their interests and to their campus’s climate.
Israel Summit at Harvard - 2020 and Beyond
The story of the Israel Summit is continuing to be written, and the team really believes the sky's the limit for this important initiative.