Hi, my name is Lily Schmutter and I am greatly pleased to have been selected to participate in this year’s ZOA high school fellowship program. I am looking forward to the opportunity to match my love for Israel with the tools that will help me bring it to life.
To me, Zionism means the undying passion of the Jewish soul for Israel, as it is reflected in our desire to protect the Jewish national homeland. As a Jew living outside our land, this means that I advocate for the permanent recognition of the state of Israel as the Jewish homeland. I also advocate for the rights of the Jewish population in Israel, particularly for preserving the unique Jewish connection to the land. Collectively, Zionism means building a bond with Israel and maintaining it through self-sacrifice and education towards our fellow Jews.
My view of Zionism explains my excitement about the ZOA fellowship. Above all, I see the ZOA fellowship as the way to arm myself with the necessary details and arguments to best support the Zionist movement. Regardless of the audience, I feel that the ZOA fellowship will give me tools that will prepare me for situations I will encounter in college.
I feel that ZOA will help me to add to the already strong relationship I have with Israel advocacy, particularly the political lobbying I have participated in with AIPAC. Since the 9th grade, I have called local congressmen and political leaders to communicate my messages and opinions on key issues for Israel, particularly in promoting it as the sole homeland of the Jewish people. From this interest and passion for political advocacy, I have increased my own connection to the Jewish state. Now, I want to build up my arsenal of ideas and learn how to spread them to my peers, as a way of furthering Israel in my own community.
I look forward to doing events that create hands-on learning opportunities for my classmates, so that we are not surprised by the challenging circumstances we will find in college. Learning about Israel in a Jewish high school, with little to directly challenge our worldview, means that we have a gap in experience we need to fill. I also look forward to bringing speakers and creating programs that push us to apply what we have already learned, through innovative use of our knowledge. A Jewish education has taught us about Israel, and fashioned our initial attachment to it. I want to see our large database of passive knowledge about Israel transformed into something living and applicable to our college experience.
I have gleaned most of the information I know about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from discussing and strategizing current prospects for peace in my weekly AIPAC club meetings and now in my Judaic Capstone Seminar class as well. Through these experiences, I have come to understand not just the historical and political realm of the conflict, but the ideological realm also. With the information I have gathered over time, I have come to understand one simple concept: the only way for peace to be reached is for the Palestinians to recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel and its right to exist. This is non-negotiable; it is the cornerstone of peace for Palestinians to accept the right of the Jewish nation to exist in the land of Israel and to prosper in their homeland. At the end of the day, the Jewish people will never give up their state – there is no way to continue and nowhere to go until the Arabs are accepting of this resolve.
I joined this fellowship because I feel I have something to offer, not just something to earn from it. I am quiet organizer and manager, someone who doesn’t make a lot of noise but makes a large impact. In addition to my own creative ideas, I look forward to working with other strong voices and innovative thinkers, to help them practically realize their ideas for Israel advocacy.