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Security and Safety at JNF Conference for Israel

Zionist from all across the United States gathered in Denver, Colorado to attend the annual conference for Israel hosted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) from Nov.30 to Dec. 3. Attendees included 300 teenagers, 700 college students, and 1500 adults.

Due to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, the security threats for attendees increased. Prior to the conference, mass protests called for Colorado to shut it down. The conference took place anyway, with heightened security. Teenagers were no longer permitted to travel from the hotel to the conference building without a chaperon. In addition to the Colorado police department, the JNF hired private security companies to ensure safety to all attendees. The security level of the event was compared to that at the NFL Super Bowl. 

Ella Collier, a junior from Sarasota, FL said,“I thought that the security was amazing, and I felt very very safe. The Denver community made it clear that they were looking out for us.”

Still, counter protesters gathered outside the conference center, yelling and throwing water at the attendees. One woman sang “little, little terrorist” as teens entered the hotel. Another person yelled at a young lady with a knee brace “you can’t even walk you Zionist.” Thanks to the security team, no one was injured.

When asked about the counter protesters, Collier said “When I saw the protesters, I wasn’t affected. However, once I heard what they were saying, I felt like I had no power over  the situation. It felt horrible to be called a terrorist.”

Throughout the entire conference, a breaking-and-entering by a counter protest with watermelons, a symbol associated with the Free Palestine movement, was the only security breach.

Despite that incident, the conference was a success. One attendee explained that “it was beautiful seeing people from many different Jewish backgrounds come together in support of Israel. I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend and fear from some many incredible people.”

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