Trojans for Israel host Iran deal discussion


Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, discussed the heavily debated Iran nuclear deal Wednesday night at USC Hillel during the first of two Trojan Leadership Dinners hosted by Trojans for Israel.

“We host the dinner in order to unite student leaders in a networking opportunity and as an educational way to learn about the U.S.-Israel relationship,” TFI President Samantha Viterbi said in an email. “We chose this topic  because we believe this is the most important policy issue of our time.”

The Obama administration has been negotiating a deal with the Iranian government for the past 20 months and after the deal was reached in early July, a 60-day review period commenced in Congress, where it was met with criticism. By Sept. 17, Congress must vote to either accept or reject the deal.

“Trojans for Israel is a bipartisan, undergraduate student organization that advocates on the vitality of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” Viterbi said. “We create leadership statements every semester, on pressing topics relevant to our local members of congress, and ask student leaders to sign onto them.”

Hillel held the event at their off campus location. According to its website, Hillel’s mission is, “To enrich the lives of Jewish undergraduate and graduate students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world.”

Student leaders and TFI members alike were in attendance at the event.

Tamar Fleshler, vice president of religious life for Hillel, also hoped to learn more from the dinner.

“My life goal is to bridge the gap between Israel and Palestine,” Fleshler said. “We’ve appealed to the offices of Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to show that we care about these issues. We need to seek a better deal.”

After student leaders sat down for dinner, Schnur introduced himself and set the stage for open dialogue.

“The debate is not whether there should be an agreement, but the debate is what kind of agreement makes the most sense and what can verify Iran’s promise to delay their nuclear capabilities or prohibit them from supporting terrorism in the Middle East,” Schnur said. “It’s not as much as a discussion of the Iran deal as respecting and listening to the other side and not demonizing them.”

Schnur then opened the debate up to the floor.

Audience members asked questions regarding the future of Iran, their attack capabilities, the role of Russia and China, if Iran will be allowed to fund more terrorism and how this deal will affect the U.S.-Israel relations.

“The policy piece is really complicated — each side has their own valid reasons for and against the deal,” said Aaron Rifkind, a senior majoring in international relations. “I learned that we need to come together if the bill is either rejected or passed.”

Schnur stressed the importance of collaboration to solve this issue.

“Too often we tend to listen to who we agree with and people can’t talk about these issues without anger and violence,” Schnur said.  “We need to come together to reach a 40-yard line solution.”

3 replies
  1. david
    david says:

    “Demonize the Other Side”. You must be kidding Mr. Schnur. The only people being demonized are the ones trying to achieve peace. Israel has no interest in peace. Once peace is achieved, Israel must stop stealing Palestinian land and denying them their basic human rights–something they have done to the tune of dislocating over 4million people into the ghettos of Gaza and the Occupied Territories. Israel is an apartheid state–look it up–there is no other conclusion.
    Hillel is a front for AIPAC. This is a fact. It is against Hillel policy to criticize Israel in any way shape or form. This is a fact. You will never achieve a fair dialogue within Hillel. Never and you know this. Hillel’s sole purpose is to train student leaders, with free trips to Israel amongst other incentives, to support Israel in everything they do, whether it is in the interests of the U.S. or not. Many universities have left the AIPAC-run Hillel to form the new Hillel which actually encourages free uncensored dialogue, which may include the interests of the world over the selfish interests of Israel, alone.
    So, to hold this event at, what is basically a professional lobbying organization for Israel, is a total farce. Shame on you Mr. Schnur. I understand the power and influence of Ms. Viterbi and her family. They are titans for USC. But, USC has a responsibility to present both sides of the issue in a real dialectic. How many Palestinian supporters attended. Not too many I suppose. Hillel does not allow for opposition to their causes, and they could only get away with this exclusion by holding the meeting off campus.
    Congratulations, I hope everyone is excited to go to Israel next summer on AIPAC’s dime to get “Educated On the US/Israel Relationship”. After all, what could be more important? Maybe, peace in the Middle East.
    Shame on you Mr. Schnur for leading in such a political farce. The USC family is not necessarily pro Israel. Stop acting like it is. This is a good deal for everyone–and that is why it will pass.

    • Rob
      Rob says:

      David – focus on your stance on the policy. By taking cheap shots at faculty, students, organizations and donors it cripples not just your sentiment, but those who share your position as well … Not to mention it also makes you look like a whiney grump!

    • BuckOfama
      BuckOfama says:

      Yes, the bi-partisan opposition is trumped by the partisan support. So much for an administration that brings us together. Please answer your phone, your village is looking for its idiot. Peace and Iran don’t belong in the same sentence.

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