Sam Golino is a freshman at New York University's College of Arts and Science. He grew up in central Connecticut where he attended a small Catholic high school. AT NYU, he is involved in The Newman Club, the College Libertarians, and TorchPAC, which very much contributes to his growing interest in Israel and the Middle East. Israel is beautiful. The people, the culture, the history, they all amount to what is in my eyes a nation of courage and democracy. I have a lot of good things to say about Israel, and as a newly engaged member of NYU’s TorchPAC, I consider myself a “pro-Israel” individual. But what I’ve learned on my first trip to Israel, through The David Project’s Israel Uncovered trip, is that apparently being pro-Israel means a lot more than just being a cheerleader.
During our trip to West Barta’a, a Palestinian town on the Israeli side of the green line, we had the privilege of visiting a local high school, which, like all other public schools in Israel, is funded by the government. Students invited us to play soccer with them, and a young and vibrant teacher at the school, Rabbab, hospitably invited us into her own classroom and gave us homemade tea. It was a beautiful experience, regardless of whether or not Rabbab and I saw eye-to-eye on many issues. But Rabbab told us about something that I naively had never thought about: The school that Rabbab teaches at has no library.
To me, to be pro-Israel is not to be a blind supporter of Israel and all of its decisions. It means doing my best to support it as a nation and help it thrive, and to do so often means calling out any situation when it is not representative of a true democracy. Israel does need our help-- it needs our help by being reflective, and if necessary critical, in order to help make Israel the best state it can be.
Editor's note: Subsequent to our visit to West Barta'a, Sam took the initiative to reach out to Lydia, our guide in Barta'a, and Rabbab, in order to establish a book drive for the Barta'a library.
Above, students listen to speaker Rabbab (center, in blue) in Barta'a