GREETINGS FROM JERUSALEM!!!!! My name is Sami Israel and I am a member of Skidmore’s Class of 2019. I was the recipient of one of the CDC’s post grad award grants and I am so incredibly excited to share my experience with you! I am currently participating in a fellowship program in Israel that provides recent college graduates with the opportunity to intern within the Israeli government and gain a deeper understanding of Israeli society.
My internship is at Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO). The GPO is a branch of the Prime Minister’s office and is responsible for disseminating press releases from the president and prime minister. Additionally, they provide press cards to domestic and foreign journalists. They are a main point of contact for the foreign media and their correspondents stationed in Israel. Given that the GPO is part of the government they are neutral on all political issues. However, they do produce original content mainly focused on Israel “beyond the conflict.” This not only maintains their neutrality but also emphasizes that there is more to Israel than its incredibly complicated geo-political circumstances. This is where my main responsibilities at the GPO come into play.
Being a native English speaker I am tasked with writing and creating original content for the GPO’s English website and social media. Additionally, I have been asked to conduct interviews and help with videos that the GPO produces. For example, one day I was told that I would be accompanying a news team to the Old City of Jerusalem to interview Brazil’s All Star soccer team. The Brazilian team was visiting to participate in the “Shalom Game” (shalom meaning peace in Hebrew), a match against Israel to promote peace and co-existence. While the game took place in Haifa the team visited Jerusalem the day before to see the historically and religiously significant sites. We ended up not only interviewing members of the team but also joining them on their tour of the Christian and Muslim quarters of the Old City! It was unbelievable. It was only my second day on the job and I was in shock.
During my second week of work the GPO hosted their third annual Christian Media Summit, which was attended by 150 Christian journalists from around the world. I not only got to conduct interviews with attending journalists but also gain a deeper understanding of the Christian perspective towards Israel. Notable experiences from the conference included hearing the prime minister address summit participants and accompanying the journalists up north to the Golan Heights. Some of my responsibilities during the four-day summit included helping to create Instagram stories for GPO social media and writing articles about the event. Most importantly, I got to know the GPO staff, including the director, which was invaluable. The staff is a diligent and passionate team. Since then I have reported for the GPO from the Jerusalem Jazz festival (below), written numerous articles and learned countless lessons about the government, freedom of the press and journalistic integrity. It has truly been the experience of a lifetime.