Israeli-American college students from 33 campuses across North America gathered in L.A. for the inaugural Israeli American Council (IAC) Mishelanu National Conference this past weekend to strengthen their cultural and national identities and define a new campus leadership voice.

Among the top speakers at the first IAC Mishelanu conference was Israel’s Consul General in Los Angeles, David Siegel, who said the students represent the “real, human face” of Israel across North America.

“Israeli students on U.S. campuses are important representatives for sharing the real, human face of Israel with young American college students,” said Siegel. “Developing a network such as the one through the IAC Mishelanu program will empower the growing Israeli-American community with the ability to capably deal with tomorrow’s challenges.”

IAC Mishelanu is a national campus-based program that strengthens the identities of Israeli-American college students. The conference, with the theme “Meet Your Past, Shape Your Future,” was aimed at nurturing Israeli-American college students’ emerging cultural & national identities and supporting Israeli-American campus leaders, especially in the face of critical challenges at colleges around the world. Participants represented campuses from Boston to San Francisco, New Orleans to Toronto.

IAC Mishelanu, in collaboration with the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli Tzofim (Scouts), featured two and a half days of in-depth sessions on such pressing topics as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and the evolving identity of Israelis in America.

In addition to Siegel, others who addressed the conference included IAC supporter and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, IAC National Chairman of the Board Shawn Evenhaim and IAC Mishelanu Co-Founder Dadi Perlmutter, who spoke about the need for a strong Israeli-American community.

The IAC’s Evenhaim urged the students to “do things for others,” and to stay involved in volunteerism and helping people in college and beyond. “That’s how you will make the world a better place and that’s how you will ensure that Israel will always receive the support it needs from the United States,” he said.

Adelson, meanwhile, urged the students to have “a standard of morality that is unbreakable,” dubbing them “the Campus Maccabees.”

IAC Mishelanu, (which means “one of us” in Hebrew), maintains chapters on 45 campuses across the country, with on-campus programs, off-campus seminars, and an eight-week personalized internship experience in Israel geared toward Israeli-Americans. The IAC Mishelanu National Conference is one more advancement in the IAC’s overall mission of leading and uniting the emerging Israeli-American community. The IAC has expanded nationwide, and held its first national conference in Washington this past November.

The Israeli-American Council (IAC), the preeminent Israeli-American organization in the United States, seeks to build an engaged and united Israeli-American community that strengthens our next generations, the American Jewish community, and the State of Israel. IAC currently serves the Israeli-American community, currently estimated at 600,000, with a large variety of programs and events for all ages, and supports a wide range of other community non-profit organizations and initiatives. For more information about the IAC.