Interview: Paula Joffe, StandWithUs
Anti-Semitism takes many forms—some of which are subtle enough to go unchecked. It has led to a culture that still finds Jewish people facing harassment and violence. That’s why the work of StandWithUs, an organization that supports Israel and fights anti-Semitism around the world, is so important.
Our guest this week is Paula Joffe, the executive director of the Mid-Atlantic region for StandWithUs. She shares the reality of anti-Semitism especially among young people, the programs her organization offers to educate people on the plight of Israel, the importance of the connection between the Christian and Jewish communities, and what we can personally do to further the mission of StandWithUs. If you love God’s Chosen People and want to make a difference in their lives, you’ll be refreshed by our conversation with Paula.
To learn more about StandWithUs, visit their website at standwithus.com.
Steve Conover: Welcome to the Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher Chris Katulka. Right up front, I'd like to remind you to visit our website, foiradio.org, to keep up on all things related to the Friends of Israel Today radio program. There, you can listen to all of our broadcasts, five years' worth of content with links to our featured products highlighted in the show, or you can support our ministry by clicking on the donate button to help us continue teaching biblical truth about Israel and the Jewish people. Visit us at foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Friends, please visit us at foiradio.org to find out all the information that's happening here at the Friends of Israel Today. And there, you can listen to past episodes and series that we've done, pretty much everything that we've been doing for five years is all online. You can go and listen right at foiradio.org. Now, I'm really excited because today on the program, we have a dear friend, Paula Joffe, a friend not only to myself and my family, but also a friend, a dear friend, of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. She is the executive director of the mid-Atlantic region for an amazing organization called StandWithUs. She's going to be talking about the work that they do, not only here in our area, but all around the world, as they educate people about the importance of Israel and stand up against antisemitism, something that is so needed right now. I think you're really going to enjoy this interview with Paula Joffe.
For our podcast listeners, if you're out there and you're listening, thank you. And while you're there, be sure to rate and comment on our program that can be heard on Apple, Spotify, Google, TuneIn, Stitcher, the whole host of platforms for podcasts. We'd love to hear from you, especially our Apple listeners. Your ratings and your comments, they help us here at the Friends of Israel because they help others find our program. So if you believe that more people need to learn about Israel and the Jewish people, you believe that people need to stand up against antisemitism, you believe that people should look at the Bible from a unique Jewish perspective, then be sure to comment and rate our podcast. We'd really appreciate it.
Steve Conover: The Trump administration has brokered a historic peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates called the Abraham Accords. The new relationship between the Jewish and Gulf States will open ties for energy, tourism, direct flights, investment, security, communication, and technology, along with full ambassadorial ties. The last peace agreement was 26 years ago between Israel and Jordan.
Chris Katulka: Now for our listeners, I want you to think about this for a minute. The thought that an Israeli could board a direct flight and vacation in Abu Dhabi, which people do, or do business in Dubai, it's just astonishing. I mean, Israelis can't even go into Lebanon, which is North of them, or why would they go to Syria? Not many go to Jordan or down into Egypt, but here, the idea of this full bilateral agreement is just amazing. So who made this possible? How is this possible? Well, number one, the Palestinians made it possible. And how is that possible? Because they neglected peace with Israel for so long, and the Arab world has been waiting for them for too long. And you know what? That's why the UAE came to the table. They're leaving the Palestinians behind.
The second reason, Donald Trump. I mean it. He's a different kind of negotiator. He offers less pie in the sky peace provisions and more hard realities that the Palestinians would have to deal with, which brought the UAE to the negotiating table. So I want you to do me a favor, continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Chris Katulka: Paula, great to have you in the studio.
Paula Joffe: Thank you, Chris.
Chris Katulka: Paula, you are the Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic region for StandWithUs, and we're going to talk about that. You are the executive director for the Mid-Atlantic America-Israel Chamber of Commerce, and you are on the National Conference of APAC, one of the largest Israel lobbies in the country. And so it's a joy to have you in here. We want to talk about your work with StandWithUs. Can you tell our audience a little bit about StandWithUs? Maybe they're not familiar with it.
Paula Joffe: Sure. Well, first of all, it's just great to be with you, and I appreciate the opportunity to talk about StandWithUs. We are an education organization, dedicated to supporting Israel and fighting antisemitism. Like you were inspired by our love of Israel and we believe that education is the road to peace. And that's why we work with students and student programs and printed materials and social media, and all these other different platforms to educate people about Israel and to empower folks of all ages and all backgrounds so that they too can reach out to their peers. And in just 19 years, we've created a global network. We are on five continents, a global network of pro-Israel activists who tell Israel's story, they counter misinformation, and they fight antisemitism.
Chris Katulka: And misinformation is probably one of the keywords when it comes to Israel and the Jewish people fighting antisemitism. And just a friendly reminder to our listeners, antisemitism, I always feel like I have to define it because people don't know what it means. Antisemitism is the hatred of the Jewish people. And I was just listening to you, and you talked about reaching all ages, and your website says that too. You said you reach out to middle school, high school, college-age kids, and young adults. I've been surprised to see that most young adults are unfamiliar with even the term of antisemitism, the hatred of Jewish people. Are you seeing this more and more on college campuses as you get out there?
Paula Joffe: Yeah, sure, especially in the age of social media. But on college campuses in particular, as you asked, where you have a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine or Jewish Voices for Peace, you're going to have antisemitic activity. And even though they claim that their activities are anti-Zionism, which is not antisemitism. You and I know that that's really not the case. Each year, we bring our student interns together for a conference, usually in LA. This year, they did it virtually, and at the conclusion of it, there was pretty much universal agreement that one of the most interesting conversations they had was about legitimate criticism of Israel and when that crosses the line into antisemitism.
Chris Katulka: Big issue.
Paula Joffe: Big issue. So you're right when you say that a lot of times kids go to campus and they're unaware of what antisemitism is and what some of the symbols of antisemitism is, including what a swastika is. I mean, some kids even think that's cool. So we will educate them. What is a swastika? What does it refer to? And we do this with students of all backgrounds. We work on high school campuses and also in college campuses. We have what we call the Emerson Fellows.
Chris Katulka: Because there isn't a federal education program that's educating across the State lines on the Holocaust, on antisemitism, really it's a State to State issue. And I know for us here in the State of New Jersey, it is in our curriculum here, but in a lot of States actually, issues of antisemitism, the Holocaust are not being taught at all. I know, I think president Trump was trying to make an initiative to make sure it's a part of every education program, but I'm interested to know you're noticing an effect in how that comes across as young adults are getting to college now, they're just not educated.
Paula Joffe: That's true. Many of them are not. And when they get to college, we are looking for really bright stars to become our Emerson Fellows. So the Emerson Fellowship with StandWithUs was started back in 2007, due to the generosity of Los Angeles philanthropists, Rita and Steve Emerson. It's a very competitive process to become an Emerson Fellow, we have a way over a hundred Emerson's across the United States across North America. And we are expanding this year. We've had a record number of Emersons, which is a wonderful thing. So reaching more and more students obviously. And the program is now expanded into the United Kingdom and Brazil. So we expect obviously that number to go up. And we don't just train Jewish students, we also have the Hispanic Emerson Fellowship program-
Chris Katulka: Really?
Paula Joffe: And we teach all these students how to combat antisemitism.
Chris Katulka: Tell me more about what kind of reaction are students getting in high school and mostly college campuses. Because that's where I feel like the indoctrination process begins to take place. High school students, you might have some passionate high school students here or there, but when you get to college, that's when things, and university, that's when the indoctrination process begins and you can actually sense a difference in the way people approach. What kind of reaction does StandWithUs get on college campuses?
Paula Joffe: So can I give you an example of how our Emerson's work?
Chris Katulka: Yeah. Please.
Paula Joffe: So this year we saw some remarkable leadership coming out of the Emerson Fellows on campus. And one example was at Florida State University in response to the Senate president, a gentleman by the name of, Ahmad Daraldik who used his social media platforms many times to make antisemitic slurs. So we happen to have had an extraordinary Emerson Fellow at Florida State. His name was Leos Greenberger and like our other Emerson's, he was very prominent in the pro Israel community on campus. So he reached out to the Florida State administrators and got them to adopt the IHRA the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, definition of antisemitism. Do you mind if I read that?
Chris Katulka: Please go ahead.
Paula Joffe: Because it's very specific. It says antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews, rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jews and non Jews.
Chris Katulka: Interesting.
Paula Joffe: Right. And or their property, Jewish institutions and religious facilities. That's a very clear definition. And it's so clear in fact, that it's been adopted by the United States department of State, the European union and now Florida State University.
Chris Katulka: Wow, so that's coming right out of the Emerson program that you have?
Paula Joffe: That's right out of the Emerson program.
Chris Katulka: Amazing.
Paula Joffe: Amazing. Right. So another example, we're not just in the United States, we're across North America, a young woman who attended McGill University was just recognized for her leadership with the StandWithUs Roberta Seid Award for Courage and Leadership. Because on her campus at McGill University, she was really stunned to come face to face with several antisemitic incidents. One being in her sorority, where she wanted to participate in a panel on diversity and was told no you're Jewish that would make other students uncomfortable, you may not be on the camera, sorority a place of refuge. And she faced this. But what she was really recognized for was outstanding leadership and dealing with a professor in her political science class, which was attended by over 600 students. The professor used the Israel Palestinian conflict as an example of human rights violations. So she reached out to her StandWithUs campus coordinator and in conjunction with our superb research and strategy team, came up with a whole new list of resources for the professor, which was accepted and used in future lessons.
Chris Katulka: Really?
Paula Joffe: Yeah. So this is great-
Chris Katulka: So it was actually a change of mind within, so a professor usually you'd think there might be ardent, they're not going to move. But it looked like you were able to change a mind as a result of this.
Paula Joffe: The students were, they are remarkable, they are the leaders, they lead us, they are on the front lines. And StandWithUs, trains them, gives them the confidence, the tools to stand up to the antisemitism and speak out and tell the truth.
Chris Katulka: That's amazing. Now, listen, for those of you who are just joining in, I have Paula Joffe with me. She's the executive director of the Mid-Atlantic region for StandWithUs. We've been talking about the work that StandWithUs is doing. And when we come back, Paula is going to give us some information on how we can connect with StandWithUs. We're going to continue this discussion. And Paula is going to highlight, which I think is something so important, the work of how Christians and Jewish people can come together for the cause of good to stand up for the nation of Israel and to stand up for the Jewish people. So be sure to stick around.
Israel is under constant attack. They're under attack from the United Nations and certain European countries, even label Israeli goods to warn the products are made in Judea and Samaria. The Middle East has a very unhealthy antisemitic sentiment toward Israel and the Jewish people. Listen, there are a lot of reasons to be upset about this constant attack of Israel from the world. But you know what really makes me sad, is when Bible believing Christians oppose Israel. If there is one text that reveals God's heart and passion for His people and His land, it's the Scriptures and the church of Jesus Christ needs to know this biblical truth. And that's why I'm excited to offer for you a resource that will give you the tools and information you need to show that God loves Israel. It's called 10 Reasons Why Christians Should Support Israel.
Steve Conover: 10 Reasons Why Christians Should Support Israel is an easy read, and it will connect you with Bible verses that will show your brothers and sisters in Christ that God still has a purpose and bright future for Israel and the Jewish people. To purchase, visit us at foiradio.org, that's foiradio.org. We'll have the link on our homepage, or you can call our listener line at (888) 343-6940. And someone will return your call during our regular business hours. Again, that's (888) 343-6940. To order in Canada, call (888) 664-2584. Again, that's (888) 664-2584.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back everyone. We are speaking with Paula Joffe, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic region for StandWithUs. Something that's unique about you, Paula, is that you have entered into our world. And what I mean by this is that, as evangelical Christians here at The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, you have reached out to us. You were the one who took major steps. I think it was a unique partnership, but you made steps to say, I need to make sure evangelical Christians are a part of the front lines of standing up against antisemitism and supporting Israel. Why is that important to you? I have to know.
Paula Joffe: You have to know. *laughs
Chris Katulka: Yeah, I have to know.
Paula Joffe: I love working with StandWithUs. I do love working with StandWithUs obviously, but I love working with The Friends of Israel because we both as Jews and Christians understand the importance of Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people. The historical and the religious connections to the land of a country that is a beacon of light in the Middle East, a democracy where anyone of any religion can celebrate their beliefs and have access to their holy sites without fear of persecution. I mean, this place I go to the Kotel, the dome of the rock is there. I can walk the path that Jesus walked. I can follow that same thing. That's very moving, that's important. What would happen if there weren't an Israel? What would happen if there were no democracy and were no freedom? So our working together to ensure a safe and secure Israel is very important to me. And I am particularly grateful for the work that The Friends of Israel does on Israel's behalf.
Chris Katulka: For our listeners, some of you might be, you might not recognize the name, Paula Joffe, but I know a lot of our listeners go to our national conferences, they go to our Winona Lake conference, they go to our Lancaster conference and you might remember Paula because she was the one that sells Israeli jewelry while she's there as well. I mean, Paula is, she's got a ton of things that she's doing, and this is just one way that she supports Israel and she also connects with you. So maybe you remember for those of you listening, who've been to our conferences. Maybe you remember Paula from that. I think about the importance, like you're saying of an Israel when it comes to Jewish people and for Christians as well, because like you said, you can go to the Western Wall and you know what's amazing Christians left going to the Western Wall. They respect that.
And no, I've never met a Jewish person that says you got to get this Church of the Holy Sepulchre out of here, or you got to get rid of the Garden Tomb or the Via Dolorosa. You got to get rid of these things. That's never like that, there's a unity and understanding that Jerusalem and Israel is a sacred place for both people. This is something that needs to be preserved. Wouldn’t you say?
Paula Joffe: I would agree with that.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. Paula, how can people in the short time that we have remaining, how can people connect with StandWithUs and what we're doing as evangelical Christians?
Paula Joffe: Oh, Chris, thank you so much for asking me that question. I would encourage all of your listeners to go to our website, standwithus.com and learn more. On the homepage, there's a tab that if you know of an antisemitic incident, you can click on that tab and that report will go right to our center for combating antisemitism. This is an amazing new agency that launched just about a year ago, and it is led, believe it or not, by a wonderful woman, Carly Gamble, who's a Christian. And they have among other things, a rewards program where they can offer a monetary compensation for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person or persons accused of committing an antisemitic crime. So their website, if you want to go there directly, even it's standuptohatred.com. But you can get to them by going on the homepage and clicking right through to them. Learn about who we are, learn about the high school and campus programs that we talked about. You might know some exceptional students that you'd like to recommend for these positions. I would suggest that you go-
Chris Katulka: And it doesn't matter that they're Christians, they can participate on campus.
Paula Joffe: Yes. On college campus. Right? We talked about that. As a matter of fact, my campus coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic region is a wonderful young man, Matt Gorses who is a Christian. As a matter of fact, he's Hispanic and he just participated on the StandWithUs panel on why it's important to be a Latino Zionist.
Chris Katulka: What website again, can people go to?
Paula Joffe: Standwithus.com
Chris Katulka: Standwithus.com, my friends, if you're listening, go to standwithus.com, go there, connect with standwithus.com. Read about what they're doing. Donate to them, help them as they stand up against antisemitism, the hatred of the Jewish people. And as they stand up for the State of Israel, providing true information about what's going on over there. Paula, thank you so much for being a part of the program today.
Paula Joffe: Thank you, Chris.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of Holocaust survivor Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: One day recently, I prayed before going out to witness about Jesus Christ. I got off the bus in Jerusalem and landed in front of Yad Le ‘Ahim. This group fights against those who believe in Christ. I remembered it was to places like this, our Lord said, "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves." This verse encouraged me, and without an invitation, I walked inside this anti-missionary organization. A man approached me and asked if he could be of help. I replied, "Oh, I came in to learn how you can help me, your brother." The man explained their purpose, "We extend our hands to rescue our brothers who have fallen into the trap of the apostates. People want to poison them and capture their souls." "I never read of someone dying from reading the Bible." Everyone in the office looked at me and the gentleman to whom I was speaking asked now in an unpleasant tone, "How do you know these apostates believe in the Bible? Are you one of them?"
"I am," I replied. "Leviticus 19:14 says, 'You shall not put a stumbling block before the blind. This is what you are doing, trapping the blind in darkness." By now, the entire staff had gathered around me. Then the man to whom I was speaking, he said, "We have concluded you are one of those dangerous ones, bringing spiritual poison to the new Russian immigrants. How can you have the chutzpah to try to brainwash us also?" I replied, "I only want to show you that you do not have to work so hard. You go to them with your commentaries, but I show them the Bible. Through this book, they can learn who their God is, who their Savior is, and how they can prepare themselves to meet Him one day." The man angrily responded, "And do you tell them they must believe in this man Jesus? Do you tell them by believing in Him, they will be saved?"
"There, you said it yourself," I responded. "It's in the Bible, whom you studied very carefully. You're saying that people can read about Jesus in the Bible is a great blessing to my heart because I have believed this truth for many years." That statement ignited a fire. He shouted, "How can you say that? Are you not ashamed?" "No, my dear," I replied. I then read Isaiah 50:7 for the Lord God will help me. I will not be disgraced. And I know I will not be ashamed. I told him, "I know in whom I have believed, and I'm not ashamed." "Do you also kneel before this man?" he asked. "Of course," I replied. "Daniel knelt three times a day and prayed to God. Can I do any less? I am not like you, going to people with warnings. Instead, I go to them with the love of God. I know you hate me, but I love you because the Lord instructed us in Leviticus 19:18 to love your neighbor as yourself. You are my neighbor and so I love you."
Shortly thereafter, our conversation ended, and I left them to ponder the things I told them. I hope to have further contact with him and pray that one day they will see the light found in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Steve Conover: Thank you for being with us for the program today. Chris, we have one of my favorite guests next week to discuss an intriguing and timely topic.
Chris Katulka: That's right. It is the fall feasts of Israel coming up, Leviticus 23. And this is really important. And we're going to have a special guest on, a dear friend of ours here, Bruce Scott, who's written on this subject and we're going to be not just looking at Rosh Hashanah that's coming up, but we're going to really look at the whole picture of what the fall feasts mean. From Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, to the Feast of Tabernacles. What is God doing, what does God mean, and what it means to a Christian's life today. I think it's going to be a great time.
Steve Conover: We'll hope you join us then. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong, and I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. And one last quick reminder to visit us at foiradio.org. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
10 Reasons Why Christians Support Israel
Israel faces attacks from every side—the United Nations, European countries, Middle Eastern nations, and, sadly, even Christians. But God has never forsaken His Chosen People, so we who love God should stand with Israel!
10 Reasons Why Christians Support Israel is an easy read that will leave you convinced that loving Israel is biblically sound, God-honoring, and beneficial in sharing what God’s Word teaches about Israel and the Jewish people.
Apples of Gold: A Sheep Among Wolves
One day as Zvi was out praying and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, he walked into an anti-missionary organization. When he was approached by a worker Zvi asked what it was that they did there. The worker explained they help save their fellow brothers who have fallen prey to the missionaries’ teaching of falsehoods. When Zvi stated, “I never heard of anyone dying from reading the Bible,” everyone turned and looked at him. Listen and find out what their response was to this seemingly simple statement.
Zvi’s story is available in Elwood McQuaid’s book, “Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph over the Holocaust,” available at our online store.
More stories from Zvi are also available in his book, “The Best of Zvi,” available at our online store.
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Hard-hitting, accurate, up-to-date analysis of Israel and the Middle East. Thought-provoking examination of God’s Word. Answers about the end-times. The truth behind today’s headlines. Immediate access to the latest books and resources. People who want to be informed—and have a heart for God’s Chosen People—rely on Israel My Glory.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.