Hen’s story combines many different aspects: He is of Iraqi/Mizrachi heritage, and his grandma fled Baghdad in the 1940’s, days after her seeing her father killed for being Jewish. Hen grew up during the Second Intifada, the wave of Palestinian terrorism in which over 1,100 Israelis were killed. He went on to serve in COGAT, the unit of the IDF which deals with civilian issues of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza; he also served as an openly gay commander. Hen synthesizes the multiple facets of his own personal story, and also links his own story with the story of the Jewish state itself, in order to tell the story of Israel.
During Hen’s tour, he visited sixteen campuses on the East Coast, the Midwest and Canada, and students were enthralled by his story. At Boston College, the event was packed to capacity, and many people attended who are not regular members of the pro-Israel group there (CAMERA-supported Eagles for Israel). After Hen’s talk, students engaged him with questions right up until he had to leave due to his next engagement.
Students who attended Hen’s talk at York University, hosted by CAMERA-supported group Israeli Students Association, said that his talk exposed them to the actual realities of being an IDF soldier. Hen’s story gives people a window into the difficult decisions that IDF soldiers have to make on a regular basis.
Last year, Hen made headlines when his CAMERA event in London, hosted by CAMERA-supported groups UCL Israel Society and KCL Israel Society, was violently shut down by a mob of anti-Israel students. This tour was a chance to do what Hen wants most – to engage, discuss and share his story, enriching student’s understanding of the realities in Israel.
Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern