Israeli talks about life in his country
StandWithUs, an international nonprofit Israel education organization, has partnered with the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland to provide high school students an opportunity to learn about Israeli life.
Inspired by a love of Israel and the belief that education is the road to peace, StandWithUs is dedicated to educating people of all ages and backgrounds by providing historical facts and context in a fair and unbiased manner.
Representing StandWithUs this year is Eitan Teiger, 26, who recently received his bachelor's degree in government, diplomacy and strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in his hometown of Herzliya, a suburb of Tel Aviv.
Teiger's maternal grandparents are Holocaust survivors who lived in Poland and Germany, but relocated to Gothenburg, Sweden after WWII. There, they raised his mother until she was 14, before immigrating to Israel. Teiger's father immigrated to Israel from the United Kingdom at the age of 27 to fulfill his dream of living in the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people.
At 19, Teiger began his mandatory service in the Israel Defense Force, serving in the artillery corps. In this unit he became a squad commander, platoon sergeant and deputy platoon commander, and received awards for leadership and team-building. During his service he served in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), the Golan Heights and in northern Israel along the border of Lebanon.
Following his service Teiger volunteered for Zikaron BaSalon (Remembering in the Living Room), which provides Holocaust survivors a living room space to share their personal stories with the next generation. This organization has enabled hundreds of thousands of people to hear first-hand stories of both the horrors of Nazi persecution and the long process of recovery.
While studying at IDC Teiger interned for an organization that builds bridges between secular and religious students, and he volunteered for an organization to prevent substance abuse and violence among youth.
In his final year of studies Teiger interned for a member from the centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party in the Knesset, Israel's national parliament. In this role he researched topics that the party hoped to incorporate into legislation and wrote speeches to be read in the Knesset.
Teiger says there is much misinformation circulating about what Israeli life is like, and when people are misinformed it can result in them taking actions that actually make peace less likely and harm all the people in the region, Israelis and Arabs alike.
"It's really very similar to American life," he said. "We go to school, we go to work. Our towns are Westernized and modernized."
Teiger's presentation "Understanding the Middle East" is about him, and his personal family history, plus facts about Israel and Jewish history, which points out that Jews are indigenous to Israel and have a 3,000-year connection to the land. He goes into the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict, discusses the history of the peace process from 1992 to the present. He always ends with a message of hope for a brighter future.
StandWithUs is committed to standing up for Israel and the Jewish people when they are publicly attacked or misrepresented. By working with partner organizations such as JFGP Teiger and other representative like him help local communities overcome the challenges they face from anti-Israel and anti-Semitic extremists.
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