The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) held its first ever National Student Essay contest. The goal of the contest was to raise awareness of Israels historical, legal and religious rights in Judea and Samaria. We believe this was especially important in light of unprecedented international pressure against Jews building and living there, even within the confines of established borders of its communities. Students were asked to write about the following statement: Jews have a historical, legal, and religious right to live in Judea and Samaria. The contest drew students from across the country, and was extremely competitive.
The winning essay was written by Paul Harding, a student at New York University. He is using a pseudonym for privacy purposes, because he aspires to a career in intelligence and is concerned about the sensitive nature of this work. Pauls entry was an extraordinarily well-written essay titled Jewish Statehood: A Religious-Historical-Legal Defense. In his essay, Paul makes the case for Israels rights in Judea & Samaria from a Religious-Historical perspective, as well as detailing Israels legal rights granted during the Mandate for Palestine, and reaffirmed throughout the years since.
The 2nd Place essay was written by Dalia Bolotnikov, a student at the University of Virginia, and the 3rd Place essay was written by Eli Shapiro, a student at New York University. Both Dalia and Eli took very different approaches to responding to the theme, but made powerful arguments in support of the Jewish right to live in Judea and Samaria. Dalias essay focused on the importance of the Jewish holy sites in the area, as well as on some of Israels security needs there. Elis essay took on a more personal note, speaking about his uncle who lives in the Shomron region and was nearly killed by Arab terrorists, and why his family chooses to remain there despite the threats.
All three students will be awarded cash prizes. Excerpts from their winning essays will be included in this falls issue of The College Zionist, ZOAs campus magazine, and our newsletter called The ZOA Report. Josh Nason, Managing Director, ZOA Campus Programs, said We are proud that this essay contest has allowed us to showcase some truly well-written student essays. These essays show that Israels rights have a deep historical, legal, and religious basis, and that this argument must be made as often and as lucidly as possible.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, The ZOA is thrilled and proud that our first pro-Israel essay contest attracted a large, diverse, and talented group of pro-Israel student thinkers and writers. Choosing the top three essays was a daunting and difficult task given the quality of essays we received. Nonetheless, the papers chosen were uniquely persuasive and eloquent works. With college students like these, the future for pro-Israel advocacy looks promising indeed. ZOA is delighted to have provided a platform to these students to express their thoughts on Israel