My name is Talia Dror. I’m a student at Cornell studying Industrial and Labor Relations, with minors in business and legal policy.

Like many of you who are reading this publication, I’m the child of a brave woman who fled her home country due to religious persecution. A story shared by so many Jewish people. I was raised as a Zionist and shaped by my Israeli and Iranian heritage to become an outspoken pro-Israel campus leader.

Being a Jewish student on campus hasn’t been easy since the October 7th terrorist attack in Israel. Jewish students like me face daily trials of intimidation by peers, pressuring proud Jews to cower and hide their identities. Hundreds of chants and graffitied slogans cover campuses throughout the US that call for the elimination of the Jewish state.

BDS resolutions flood student governments from Cornell to The Ohio State University and beyond. Professors use their captive audiences to preach terrorist sympathies and spread lies about the only Jewish state. Targeted physical attacks on Jewish and Zionist students pervade campuses. And that’s only the half of it.

I was fortunate enough to go on Birthright Israel in the summer of 2022 and participate in the Birthright Israel Onward internship program in the summer of 2023. Both experiences provided me with the unique opportunity to see Israel through the lens of my peers. But more importantly, since October 7th, I’ve been able to truly understand the profound impact Birthright Israel’s programs have on Jewish students and their importance in combating campus antisemitism and anti-Israel hatred.

When asked to fight in the battle against students supporting Hamas and vilifying Israel, the students I was with on Birthright and Onward have risen to the challenge, in large part due to the experiences offered by both programs. On the classic 10-day trip, Jewish American college students met Israeli soldiers, asking them thought-provoking questions about the IDF’s training programs and their value of human life.

On Onward, students integrated into Israeli society. They dispelled the myth of apartheid by working hand in hand with Arab Israelis. They saw the pride parades in Tel Aviv and women in the Knesset and identified the stark contrast between Westernized Israel and its not-so-westernized adversaries.

It was this firsthand experience that enabled Jewish students on campus to confront libelous claims against the Jewish state. Only five days after Hamas’ heinous attacks, I watched as Cornell Birthright and Onward alumni bravely defended Israel’s right to exist and defend itself, calling out students, faculty, and administration for their blatant Jew-hatred. In the five months since, they have continued to gather for rallies, fight against antisemitism, and provide a sorely-needed voice of moral clarity.

Back in November, I was honored to testify at a congressional hearing about the hostile anti-Jewish and anti-western environment on college campuses. Now, there is a congressional investigation into Cornell, putting the school’s endowment on the line.

In this crucial moment, we must not be Jews with trembling knees. As our elected leaders finally examine the poison within our institutions, my generation must rise to the occasion and lead with integrity and moral clarity. We must work to influence legislation, reform our institutions, and foster strong pro-Israel leaders. Because within just a couple of years, the same students currently harboring pro-Hamas sentiments on our campuses will inevitably assume powerful leadership roles.

Creating and empowering pro-Israel advocates and continuing to ignite Jewish pride in the next generation has never been more critical. As colleges increasingly descend into antisemitic academic echo chambers, the strength of the pro-Israel movement relies on programs like Birthright Israel that take students directly to the state their peers villainize, disproving all the lies.

So, as I end this piece, I ask you to consider investing in my generation. Invest in Birthright Israel. Invest in sending one, ten, or a thousand students like me to Israel so we can come back and fight for our home, our heritage, and the future of the Jewish people.