By Michael A. Morris
The Sderot-based Israel Leadership Institute held its first meeting in Georgia recently so founder and Executive Director Eeki Elner could share his vision of a Georgia-Israel Leadership Network.
Hilik Bar, the deputy speaker of the Knesset, was the keynote speaker for the meeting, which drew 60 or so participants.
Hosting the lunch were two prominent Jewish Atlantans, Doug Ross and Jay Davis, and a Christian, Tim Williams.
Williams has worked with Elner for eight years to develop the Israel Leadership Institute of North America, which has run programs in Ohio for two years, is beginning to create programs in Alabama and is looking at Georgia for its next growth opportunity.
The ILI trains young Jewish and Christian leaders, in Israel and America, to combat anti-Semitism; anti-Zionism; the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement; and the myriad of propaganda the Arab world uses to attack the integrity of Israel and Jews around the world.
Bar said threats to Israel cut across all lines in Israel, hitting secular, Haredi, Christian, Druze, Bedouin and Muslim Israelis.
In America, he said, BDS is nothing more than a front to delegitimize Israel and to take advantage of a knowledge vacuum on college campuses. The ILI equips young leaders with knowledge, tools, understanding and commitment to support and defend Israel.
More than 300 young leaders have attended classes and seminars in Ohio.
Elner’s vision for a Georgia chapter would include not only classroom-style workshops in Georgia, but also one-week trips to Sderot to meet and work with young Israelis.