Tel Aviv University’s valedictorian Haisam Hassanein, an Egyptian citizen who came to study in Israel and found the country wasn’t what he was told it would be:
“My first exposure to Israel was through music and television. On the radio, there were anthems about the destruction Israel had caused. In the movies, Israelis were depicted as spies and thieves. In spite of the fact that the two countries struck a famous peace accord in 1979, the Israelis, I was told, were our eternal enemies.
On my very first day here at the university, I saw men in kippas, women in headscarfs and hijabs. I saw soldiers walking peacefully among crowds of lively students. I learned there were people of every kind in the university, and the university had a place for all of them—Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, Bedouins, and even international students…We must always question our assumptions…Being here in Israel has taught me that life is full of paradoxes and complexities—that nothing is straightforward, and that things are often not as they are made to seem.”

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