As a champion of pro-Israel causes, Adam Milstein, an Israeli-American philanthropist, has dealt with plenty of opposition to his mission over the years. Since the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement started over ten years ago, college campuses have more and more become the battleground. In response, Adam Milstein has rallied others to the new battleground, and equipped them with the tools and resources to respond to the lies and hate from BDS.
Adam Milstein has not only pointed out the way forward to combat this new foe, but has waded into the thick of it personally. He has written many articles on the subject, shining a light on a problem that is encouraging antisemitism across Northern America and Europe. These efforts are helping to prevent the spread of BDS, but Adam is also working to stay a step ahead of powerful lobbies from countries that want to destroy Israel, Adam’s homeland. This is why he works to find and foster new, innovative avenues to support Israel on campuses through the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation.
To this end, Adam has thrown his support whole-heartedly behind Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a pro-Israel college movement has started chapters at campuses across the country, with the movement even spreading into Canada. Many chapters have grown considerably since their inception, thanks to the efforts of both Jewish and non-Jewish students.
In early 2012, a small group of pro-Israel students at the University of Minnesota put everything into motion. Those early members grew tired of seeing Israel constantly cast in a negative light on their campus, and they wanted a way to show their support of the country. Some of those early members weren’t even Jewish, but they wanted to do the right thing regardless of religion or heritage. This small group founded SSI with the aim to advocate effectively for Israel on campus, and dispel the atmosphere of intimidation and lies that impede supporting Israel at American universities today.
The objective of SSI is simply to improve how well North Americans understand Israel as a nation. More specifically, the organization wants to convey that the Jewish country is a democratic state, and has a fundamental right to exist, which includes securing its borders. Additionally, SSI provides a safe haven for students isolated or outcast by their support for Israel, and counters the demonization of students who have simply raised their voices in support of a sovereign, democratic country.
Promoting the cause of Israel includes providing a fresh perspective. In order to give that perspective to a wider audience, SSI members run for student government positions and thus provide a voice in governing bodies. Chapters also teach Jewish culture to members and non-members alike, and try to keep the campus informed with the latest, unbiased news in the Middle East.
For example, in the spring of 2017, SSI observed the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War. Yet, outside the SSI movement, many college students know little to nothing about the conflict. With the support of the Milstein Family Foundation, SSI members began to educate their peers on the history of the war so that they would understand how the war was vital to Israel’s survival.
Instead of simply celebrating the victory, SSI chapters also focused on the painful costs that came with it. Non-members were given a glimpse as to how the war still impacts Israelis today. From there, SSI was able to combat misinformation about life in modern Israel. To illustrate the reality of life in Israel, SSI highlighted how freedom of religion is practiced in Jerusalem among its diverse population—Jewish, Christian, Druze, Baha’i, Muslim, and more . All of this education was accomplished by SSI members using informational displays on campus, gave away literature, and even held movie screenings.
Adam Milstein is open about his support of SSI. The philanthropist argues that any compassionate person can understand the plight of Israel. He points out that Israelis have a right to self-determination as a sovereign nation, living where their ancestors did, just like many other countries. Adam’s support for SSI is because they employ the exact same reasoning to advance the Israeli cause.
Adam firmly believes that supporting SSI has been effective. as BDS campaigns at college campuses where an SSI group is active have been unsuccessful, while that is not always true on campuses without a chapter. It’s clear from this evidence that SSI is an effective answer to stopping the antisemitism of the BDS movement in higher education. Adam Milstein’s early support has helped to turn the tide of the anti-Israel mentality, which have been sweeping over campuses nationwide.
Adam’s steadfast support of Israel, even in the face of virulent critics, comes as no surprise—Milstein is no stranger to conflict. He is a veteran of the IDF and served during the Yom Kippur War. While he no longer fights wearing a military uniform, he’s still rallying the troops and leading the charge against Israel’s political enemies. After graduating from Technion in Israel, he moved to the United States and received an MBA at USC. Afterwards, Milstein was successful in the Southern California commercial real estate market. Milstein’s current position allows him to provide support for the people who are the boots on the ground fighting for pro-Israel causes.
The support provided by Milstein to SSI extends well beyond finances. Thanks to his extensive connections in the Jewish community, Milstein has established connections with other pro-Israel groups. For example, SSI now collaborates with Jewish people indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA). That specific arrangement has allowed refugees from JIMENA, who often move to the U.S. or Israel to escape persecution and even death, to tell their story directly to American college students. The coalition-building work done by Milstein has created many meaningful connections between SSI and other influential groups. Those partnerships allow the group to pool resources, share ideas, and feel the support from other organizations.
Adam Milstein and his wife Gila, also an IDF veteran, are committed to continuing to fight for Israel even though the battlefield has changed from the terrain surrounding Israel to university campuses across America. In this fight, Adam has focused on supporting pro-active movements like SSI, leveraging his connections to foster productive relationships, and lending his voice to support their activities in writings in print and online. While he’s left his uniform long behind, Adam Milstein still takes the fight forward with pro-Israel activism on college.