Taglit alumna wins AIPAC ‘Advocate of the Year’ award

“My first time in Israel, I was blown away. I wasn’t ready to leave," says Samantha Greenberg.

IDC Herzliya (photo credit: Courtesy)
IDC Herzliya
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Samantha Greenberg was raised Jewish in the United States, but it wasn’t until visiting Israel on Taglit-Birthright that she fell in love with the country. So strong was that connection that when Hamas fired rockets from Gaza in 2013, she decided to take action by starting the country’s first chapter of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. One year and countless hours of hard work later, her efforts to connect Americans and Israelis further have earned her the title of AIPAC’s “Advocate of the Year.”
Greenberg was at the University of Florida when she became involved with AIPAC.
“My first time in Israel, I was blown away,” she tells Metro. “I wasn’t ready to leave. I had to find out more, so I stayed in Israel and I got more attached, more curious.”
Eventually she decided to stay for good. She made aliya and joined the IDF foreign relations unit as a liaison officer with Jordan. Although involved with AIPAC in her native Florida, she was surprised to find it didn’t have a presence in the country it worked to support. So while at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, she decided to help her oleh compatriots make their voice heard in American policy.
To do that, she started AIPAC in Israel. She and other members run training activities, hold meetings to go over legislation affecting Israel, write letters to Congress in support of pro-Israeli legislation, and work to involve other Americans living in Israel.
“Last year I organized a unified letter of support to congress to pass the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, and I contacted a lot of Americans that I knew were living in Israel,” she says. “I came up with a letter from Americans from 33 different states and over 130 signatures who were supporting the legislation. We went with that to Congress, and they were able to see how diverse the support was for the act, and how strong an issue it was for Americans who are living right there, so close to the heart of the conflict.”
Now, at 25, she hopes to continue working for the betterment of Israel. She interns for the Institute of Counter Terrorism, which allows her to follow her passion for Israeli and Arab politics. She says she is happy to have received the award and happy that the work she has done is getting noticed.
“I love what I’m doing. I don’t necessarily see it as work,” she says. “I see it as something that’s important and I need to give back to these two countries. It was very nice to have my work recognized, but I think the most important thing for me is that when my work is legitimized, then more people would want to come and join and be a part of this.”