Christians United for Israel (CUFI) has found its way across the country thanks to a growing college student interest, whether administratorslike it or not.
In February 2006, CUFI formed. Its birth was the product of 400 American Christian leaders who wanted to determine how the Christian world should respond to the ongoing threats to Israel. They are a grassroots movement focused on support of Israel and the Jewish people.
For the past three years, CUFI has found its way to college campuses across the country. According to David Walker, a CUFI regional field organizer, “We’re really focused on reaching the next generation.” Walker said that according to recent data, 95 million people represent the millennial population.
Walker sees working with college students as the perfect avenue for educating people why it’s important to stand with Israel. “CUFI exists to balance the conversation,” he said.
John Winchester, another CUFI regional field organizer, explained that there are millions of non-Jews. He said most of them are Christians who support Israel.
Both Walker and Winchester defended reasons for supporting Israel: Support of Israel can be considered a biblical mandate, they argue. Secondly, they said, “Israel is the number one U.S. ally in the Middle East. The threat against Israel’s existence is great.”
“The law of our true beliefs is revealed by how we act,” said Winchester. “Israel needs people to put action behind their beliefs and that happens with CUFI.”
That’s not to say the organization hasn’t faced its challenges. “As conservatives, we often get backlash,” Winchester said. He cited different issues CUFI has faced on campuses over the past three years: protests, student government opposition, lack of faculty support, defacement of event flyers, event infiltration, and media and personal attacks.
Not long ago a student at the University of Findlay in Ohio received threats for their involvement with the organization.
Walker and Winchester acknowledged that it is more difficult to start CUFI groups on campuses of private institutions. “With public campuses they don’t have a lot of issues because they don’t want to get sued. But with private ones, it’s harder,” they said.
In July, the organization will sponsor their seventh annual Washington Summit. The summit will bring together foreign policy experts to train those involved with the organization. During those three days, they bring together some of the most influential leaders and thinkers to update the organization and its members on developments in Israel, the Middle East and Washington, D.C.
The field organizers recognized that being a Christian conservative on a college campus might not be easy, but they explained that CUFI is an outlet to fight for a worthy cause. “CUFI is going to push forward,” Winchester said.
Jocelyn Grecko is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia. Jocelyn has spent the past four years in the nation’s capital as a Media Studies undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America. She will graduate in May 2012.
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